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