Thursday, July 18, 2013

Calling FEMA Into Action

Wednesday marked the three-month anniversary of the tragic explosion at the fertilizer plant in the city of West. Several emergency responders were killed and a large section of the town was destroyed. This small-knit community was left with shock and grief—mourning those who were lost and looking for a way to rebuild. Last month, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rejected West’s request for a major disaster declaration and much-needed assistance, I was disappointed to say the least. 

I am grateful that Governor Perry took action to appeal FEMA’s decision. Governor Perry called FEMA’s decision to deny further aid to West “simply unacceptable,” and I couldn’t agree more.

The West explosion inflicted severe damage to the city infrastructure, schools and residences. Any normal person would see the damage as nothing short of a disaster. We need a strong combination of local, state and federal assistance to help facilitate a full recovery.

President Obama said himself, “We’ll be there even after the cameras leave and after the attention turns elsewhere.” I urge FEMA and President Obama to hold true to his word and to his responsibility. He must act on Governor Perry’s appeal and deliver the aid necessary to rebuild West in the wake of this terrible disaster. Doing so will ensure that this Texas town can come back stronger than ever.

Click here to read a copy of my letter to FEMA. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Texas Law Enforcement Officers Fired Upon At Border

The Texas Department of Public Safety is reporting that on multiple incidents on Thursday, DPS Rangers and U.S. Border Patrol Agents were fired upon from suspects from Mexico. The incidents occurred along the Rio Grande River.

Thankfully, our Texas DPS and US Border Patrol agents were unharmed in this latest incident of criminals from Mexico attacking our country. This is yet one more example of why Texas landowners have been pleading with Washington for more resources. Our nation cannot allow cartels and criminal elements to take control of our border. If Washington continues to be unable or unwilling to do its job, Texans will meet any force with a stronger force.

Click here to read a press release from DPS.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

U.S. Citizens Living in Fear on Southern Border

American citizens should not have to live in daily fear of transnational terrorist attacks on
their home and land. However unfortunate, this is a reality for many South Texans. It’s a fear that comes from living along an insecure border. Through first-hand accounts, we hear the truth about what border life is truly like: property destruction, dead bodies, littered fields, criminal behavior, violent intimidation.

Some South Texans, who are fed up with the status quo, have banded together to fight the border infiltration. Groups like the Texas Border Volunteers, made up of private citizens, have emerged in the wake of our broken border and ongoing immigration crisis. Our federal, state and local law enforcement agents are to be commended for the individual efforts they invest into border security, but federal policy officials continue to under-staff and under-resource their needs.

Despite the fact that federal policy officials seem to be looking the other way, the efforts of these citizen groups aren’t going unnoticed. This recent, telling U.S. News & World Report article details the work being done by these volunteers, and highlights the non-stop flow of illegal traffic crossing and the fear experienced by our fellow Texans who are trying to work, raise families and live in peace along our porous border. Our country is becoming a land breached by drug smugglers, human traffickers and violence.

We cannot let this continue. We must continue to fight to fix our broken immigration system until the only word used to describe our border with Mexico is secure.

I invite you to read the full news article here, and let’s work together to raise awareness and fight to secure our nation’s border.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Expanding Workforce Skills in Texas

Ensuring Texas workers have the skills to compete in today’s marketplace is key to continued economic success in Texas. Here at the Texas Department of Agriculture, we’re working hard to help education providers in rural communities equip students with the critical skills needed to meet local workforce needs—whether it’s through direct career training or a traditional college route.

TDA is currently accepting applications for our Parallel Pathways to Success grants, which help develop educational programs for students to earn vocational skills certifications or college credits at the same time they are completing their high school diploma.

Parallel Pathways is a terrific program that equips students with workforce skills that can be translated into successful careers. Since we started awarding Parallel Pathways grants in 2009, hundreds of current and former students have benefited from the program.

It’s through programs like Parallel Pathways that we can achieve the absolute best for Texas. Lampasas County Higher Education Center used a Parallel Pathways grant to help more than 600 students receive career and college readiness assistance. Take Knox City High School as another example: Grant funding helped more than 100 students enroll in dual credit courses, allowed more than 50 students to attend college and career fairs, and employed another 50 students in a summer work program through the Texas Workforce Commission.

Skilled workers are in demand in Texas, and we need them to ensure our economy continues to flourish. To learn more and find out if you qualify, I invite you to visit us online. The deadline to apply is July 11, so the window to take advantage of this opportunity is closing soon. Thank you for helping to shape the future of Texas’ workforce for the better.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

American Dream

We are blessed to be part of a nation where the opportunity for success is still very much alive. Yes, even after 237 years, the American Dream is still within the grasp of all, regardless of where we live, the color of our skin or the size of our bank account. We live in a nation where upward mobility is available to anyone who wishes to work hard, study and give back. Life is tough, and many have obstacles to overcome. There is no better place that provides the opportunity to overcome challenges than the United States of America.

I hope our generation never takes what it means to be an American for granted. Each of us should strive to serve more, vote more and do more for our neighbors.

Please take a moment to enjoy the video below about what being an American means to me. Have a safe and happy Independence Day!