U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela is the fourth Texas Democrat to declare his boycott of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Vela, of Brownsville, initially planned to attend Friday’s event, which he thought could serve as “a moment of healing and outreach” but racist remarks from inauguration attendees and a lack of diversity in the final cabinet selection made him reconsider.
“While visiting Washington, DC, 40 migrant students from my district were subjected to comments of ‘beaners,’ ‘burritos,’ and ‘wetbacks’ from Inauguration attendees,” Vela wrote in a statement released Thursday. “One student was even spit on.”
“Then, Donald Trump made his final cabinet selection ensuring that there would be no Hispanic representation in the cabinet for the first time in 36 years,” Vela added, referring Trump’s announcement Thursday morning of Sonny Perdue as his nominee for U.S. agriculture secretary.
Several Texas Democrats in Congress have said they plan to attend Friday’s inauguration, including U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen, Gene Green of Houston, Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, Marc Veasey of Fort Worth.
Vela has long been outspoken on his concerns with Trump. In June, he drew national attention when he wrote an open letter to the real estate mogul that said “Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”
He elaborated on his remarks in an MSNBC interview. “Well, I would have liked to have spoken in a much more diplomatic fashion, but I felt like I had to speak to Donald Trump in language he understands,” he said.
Vela also noted in the letter that he agreed with Trump on some policies, like improving veterans’ care, addressing Mexican drug cartels and deporting criminal felons who are in the country illegally.
In Thursday’s statement, Vela accused Trump of “repeated acts of disrespect for the 33 million Americans of Hispanic descent” and of encouraging bigotry.
“The hope that his actions as President would not match his political rhetoric is becoming more and more of a distant dream,” Vela said.
Filemon Vela statement: pic.twitter.com/gkaPt41sKA
— Abby Livingston (@TexasTribAbby) January 19, 2017