State of the Union reaction from Valley lawmakers in line with parties

The landscape in the Rio Grande Valley’s congressional districts has changed.

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat who represents District 34, now mostly represents Cameron County and a sliver of Hidalgo County after being redistricted by the Texas Legislature.

And, now, U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, the first Republican and woman to represent District 15, has headed to Congress to represent her newly shaped district.

But despite those changes: politics continued with President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening holding the annual State of the Union address. Like clockwork, the news releases began hitting The Monitor’s inbox Tuesday night with reaction from the Valley’s elected officials.

The first to arrive was from De La Cruz.

In her first response to a State of the Union address, De La Cruz mentioned the need for bipartisanship, but she also sharply criticized the Biden administration, citing illegal immigration, inflation and his administration’s response to the saga of the Chinese spy balloon that drifted across the nation until it was shot down by a fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina.

“Tonight, we heard the President lay out his vision for our country. As I’ve always said, I believe Republicans and Democrats need to find opportunities to work together, but I also know South Texans are hurting and we need a leader who will stand up to this administration and its failed policies,” De La Cruz said.

She cited the impact of inflation on the country.

“Wages are stagnant for millions of Americans, which means that when coupled with record inflation, most families have experienced a record decline in real spending power,” she said. “South Texans have big families so here’s what this means for us: we have more mouths to feed and less money to do it with.”

De La Cruz also criticized border policy, saying it hurts border communities, strains local resources like hospitals and is “turning our towns into migrant camps.”

Throughout the Biden, Trump and Obama administrations there have been surges in asylum seekers and illegal immigration and cities like Brownsville and McAllen have routinely spent taxpayer resources in conjunction with local nonprofits to assist people passing through the communities.

Typically, asylum seekers or people with immigration claims spend just a few days in the Rio Grande Valley before they obtain a bus or plane ticket north to a destination with a family member where they wait for their immigration claim to be resolved.

“Just last year there were over 2.7 million border crossings. The Biden-Harris Administration has failed us,” De La Cruz said. “Incentivizing migrants to cross illegally empowers cartels and human traffickers, and puts migrants and their children in danger.

“This is not the American Dream.”

She said her grandparents came to the country searching for a better life, which is what she wants for others, but that the country needs an orderly immigration process.

In his address, Biden said only Congress can accomplish that.

“The status quo — as evidenced by the thousands housed in shelters and camps —- is a humanitarian nightmare,” De La Cruz said.

She also slammed Biden’s response to the Chinese spy balloon, calling it unacceptable to allow it to violate the U.S.’s airspace.

“When it was finally brought down it had, in essence, already completed its mission,” she said. In closing, De La Cruz promised to fight policies she believes hurt South Texas families and to support those that will “keep the American Dream alive for the next generation.”

“I will work toward a strong economy, lower prices for our families, a safe and secure border, and expanding domestic energy production, so that Texas oil and gas power America,” she said. “These are my priorities and I look forward to working with you on behalf of our communities.”

President Joe Biden holds a letter given to him by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that outlined laws that the governor said would make a great difference, if enforced, in addressing the “chaos” at the border, as Biden arrives at El Paso International Airport in El Paso Texas, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. From right, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Jr., D-Texas, and Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, look on. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Gonzalez’s statement, which arrived in the newspaper’s inbox a short time later, painted a much different picture than the stark one portrayed by De La Cruz.

“Democrats have delivered results for the American people, while many focus on meaningless political grandstanding and empty promises,” Gonzalez said. “From investing in critical infrastructure like drainage, roads, bridges and Wi-Fi for all to cutting healthcare costs for seniors to leading the country out of a worldwide pandemic with record low unemployment.

“Democrats are the party of the working class.”

However, Gonzalez believes the Democrats have accomplished a lot, but said there is still more work to be done.

“From national security, Congress must put aside petty politics and pass meaningful, commonsense measures that yield actual results that make American and South Texas lives better and paves the way for the next generation,” he said.

To close, Gonzalez called on Biden to continue to address the problems that the American people sent him to Congress to address.

“Our work is not done, and we need to finish the job,” he said. “I stand ready to collaborate with my Congress.”