SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Congressman Filemon Vela of Brownsville criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in a speech at the State Democratic Party convention.

In the speech, Vela referred to an open letter he recently sent to Trump which told the billionaire businessman where to shove his border wall proposals. Vela referenced the letter in his speech.

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela
U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela

“I wrote that letter because Donald Trump derogatorily referred to Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel as a Mexican. Judge Curiel is an  American jurist with a distinguished record of service as a United States prosecutor who has served on the bench with honor and distinction,” Vela said.

Trump has said he will not get a fair trail in a lawsuit concerning Trump University because Curiel is Mexican. Vela pointed out that Curiel was born in in Indiana and that his parents came from Mexico.

“I know something about that heritage. My great, great grandfather – Macedonio Vela came to this great country in 1857, 30 years before Donald Trump’s family ever set foot on this soil. And my grandparents, Maria Luisa Cardenas, Luis Sanchez and Cuca Guerrero, same from Mexico in the early 1900’s,” Vela said.

Here, in full, is Vela’s speech:

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims of the Orlando massacre

Thank You Chairman Hinojosa for inviting me here this evening.

Thank you to every delegate here today for your commitment to the

Texas Democratic Party

The State of Texas

And to the World’s Greatest Democracy

The United States of America


To our state and local officials

Thank you for your Public Service


I would like to specially thank

my congressional colleagues

Who since I was elected to Congress

have mentored me,

shared their wisdom and their time


I will be forever grateful to:

Eddie Bernice Johnson from Dallas

Sheila Jackson Lee

Al Green

And Gene Green from Houston

Lloyd Doggett from Austin

Henry Cuellar from Laredo and

Ruben Hinojosa from McAllen

On behalf of the colleagues in my class: Beto O’Rourke, Marc Veasey  and Joaquin Castro – THANK YOU


And to our two democratic congressional nominees

Pete Gallego from Alpine

and Vicente Gonzalez from Mcallen

We look forward to seeing you in Washington in January 2017


So you may have heard

About a letter I wrote to  Donald Trump

A letter in which I thought I was “diplomatically” telling him exactly where I thought he could put his wall

But tonight I am here

Because I join all of you

in an effort

to deliver this great state to the Democratic Presidential Nominee for the first time since Jimmy Carter in 1976

in an effort to make Hillary Clinton the first woman President of the United States of America


I congratulate Senator Bernie Sanders and his supporters for his inspirational and hard fought campaign

You have energized the American electorate and for that the entire Democratic Party thanks you


To Secretary Clinton,

I know you have a big decision to make

And I know you will choose a Vice President that will make us all proud

But let me just say, that here in San Antonio Texas

We are with you


We are with Julian Castro

For Vice President of the United States


Now About that letter –

I wrote that letter because

Donald Trump

Derogatorily referred to Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel

As a Mexican

Judge Curiel is an  American Jurist

With a distinguished record of service as a United States Prosecutor

Who has served on the bench with honor and distinction

Born in Indiana

from Parents who came from Mexico

Well I know something about that heritage

My great, great grandfather – Macedonio Vela

Came to this great country in 1857

30 years before Donald Trump’s family ever set foot on this soil

And My Grandparents

Maria Luisa Cardenas, Luis Sanchez and Cuca Guerrero

Came from Mexico in the early 1900’s.


I also know something about the federal judiciary

Because in 1980 President Jimmy Carter made my father

Filemon B. Vela a federal judge

who by the way was smart enough to marry my mother

Blanca Sanchez Vela

the First female mayor of  Brownsville Texas.


But I also knew my father’s mentor,

on of the first Americans of Mexican descent ever appointed to the Federal bench –

The great Reynaldo G. Garza

appointed by President John F Kennedy in 1961

When he was appointed

President Kennedy told Judge Garza

“It is up to you to do a job, so that others can follow”

And I also know the first female of Mexican descent ever appointed to the federal bench

My friend, Judge Hilda Tagle from Robstown Texas


As a judge my father  always said

that the most enjoyable part of his job

what gave him the most pride

was when he exercised his authority

to make immigrants

of all backgrounds

Citizens of the United States of America.

And let me tell you quickly about one of those citizens

whom I recently met  at an event in San Benito Texas.

Mikson Ehimika, a citizen of Nigerian descent

Walked up to me

Literally in tears

In 1992 he had fulfilled all of the necessary requirements to become an American citizen

when news came that his father had died.

In Nigeria, custom requires that the oldest son be present for the father’s burial

but Mickson still had no passport as he still  needed to take the oath of citizenship

somehow my father learned of the situation,

called Mickson, administered his oath

and the next day Mickson was on his way to Nigeria to bury his father.

Mickson recalls that several years later he heard that my father would be at a public event

Mickson, forever grateful walked up to him to express his appreciation

and as Mickson describes it

Judge Vela hugged me like a long lost son – like he knew me for a long time.


So Mr. Trump . . .

Down here in Texas

We don’t look at our fellow citizens

and call them Mexicans

We don’t call them Nigerians

We don’t call them Asian

We don’t call them Europeans

We don’t call them Jews

We don’t call them Muslims



Tonite, Leo Zuniga is in the Audience

Mr. Zuniga was raised in Brownsville

A United States Navy Veteran

He is the associate vice chancellor of communications at Alamo Colleges here in San Antonio

Last week Mr. Zuniga wrote me a letter


Dear Congressman Vela,

I support your position and statements regarding Donald Trump.

Below is a list of names of young men from Brownsville who died in Vietnam.

You will note that most are of Mexican descent.

All were American and all died fighting for our country.

Benito Alaniz

Francisco Arroyo

Albert Avalos

Albert Dunes

Albert Estrada

Robert Flores

Francisco Garcia

Atanacio Gomez

Gordon Gullet

Jesus Mejia

Tony Morales

Steve Mullen

Jimmy Myers

Israel Perez

Manuel Perez

Tony Perez

Teofilo Rios

Robert Rocha

Miguel Ruvalcaba

Jose Santos

Abelardo Vera

David Williams

Daniel Zachary

The list does not include Vietnam veterans from Brownsville,

like Israel Garcia, who lost both legs up to his hips when he stepped on a land mine in Viet-Nam

or Abelardo Longoria, who was one of two survivors after a battle with the regular North Vietnamese Army.

The battle was so fierce

that both sides ran out of ammunition

and continued to battle in hand to hand combat with fixed bayonets

until the last North Vietnamese soldier was killed.

Thank you for taking a stand for us proud Americans of Mexican descent.

Signed – Leo Zuniga


I am reminded about that moment in American Political History

When Senator Lloyd Bentsen turned to Dan Quayle

and said

“Senator . . . I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

Mr. Trump,

I knew Reynaldo G Garza and you are no Reynaldo G. Garza

I know Hilda Tagle and you are no Hilda Tagle

I know Annise Parker and you are no Annise Parker

I knew Henry B Gonzales and you are no Henry B Gonzales

I knew Hector P Garcia and you are no Hector P. Garcia

You are no Barbara Jordan

You are no Mickson Ehimika

You are no Leo Zuniga

You are no Gonzalo Curiel


Now, Paul Ryan who is third in line to the Presidency

Says that  Donald Trump’s comments about Gonzalo Curiel were textbook racist

But he is still endorsing Donald Trump

Speaker Ryan, you cant have your cake and eat it too

And I know you are in a box

But You either support a racist or you don’t

Its time to do the right thing and

Retract your endorsement of Donald Trump

So in closing, let me say that we have some work to do between now and Election Day.

We cannot let Donald Trump lead our country down a road of bigotry, racism and hate.

We have to work as hard as we ever have before to make sure he doesn’t get anywhere near the White House

And to Mr. Trump I say

You often repeat that today’s politicians are too politically correct

That is one point we can agree on

So, Mr. Trump

You can take your racism

You can take your bigotry

and you can take your wall

and shove it…

Editor’s Note: The main photo accompanying this posting was provided by Vicente Gonzalez.