Texas Politics

Kay Granger talks border crisis, fish — and Texas beef — to sold-out private crowd

For over a year these activists have showed up every week to protest immigration policy

Local activists have been protesting the separation of immigrant children from their parents detained at the border every week for over a year. Local activist and former Star-Telegram reporter Ernie Moran talks about why.
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Local activists have been protesting the separation of immigrant children from their parents detained at the border every week for over a year. Local activist and former Star-Telegram reporter Ernie Moran talks about why.

Last year it was Russia.

This year, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, traveled with high-ranking congressional leaders to Brussels, Berlin and Iceland.

She said these trips help her work through issues, or bill proposals, with leaders such as Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, who heads the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

And they give her a chance to promote her hometown of Fort Worth.

“Fighting over stuff takes forever,” Granger on Wednesday told a sold-out crowd of 300 gathered for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Leaders in Government luncheon at the Frost Tower.

On these trips, she said she had a captive audience to promote local companies ranging from Lockheed Martin to Bell Helicopter and to stress how “Fort Worth is vital to our national defense.”

“Seldom do you have that one-on-one contact,” Granger said.

Granger is among the local members of Congress traveling and reaching out to constituents during the August recess.

Many — such as U.S. Reps. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, and Roger Williams, R-Austin — have held town hall meetings. Veasey is scheduled to speak to this same Chamber group on Sept. 5.

It has been years since Granger hosted a town hall meeting. In 2017, she told the Star-Telegram that’s because of threats to her personal safety. Instead, she said, she uses private meetings to talk to constituents.

NATO

Granger, who also spoke to the Weatherford Rotary Club and other groups this week, didn’t talk Wednesday about front-burner issues such as the El Paso shooting, gun control or the $1.17 billion Panther Island project she has spearheaded for years in Fort Worth.

She did talk about her recent travels.

She noted that Brussels, her first overseas stop this summer, is where NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is headquartered.

High-level conversations were held there about a variety of topics, including the fact that there are countries not paying their fair share into NATO.

In Berlin, similar conversations were held.

As for Iceland, Granger said conversations addressed the fact that Iceland appears to be leaning more to China than the United States.

“So we had lots of conversations and meetings about what has happened,” she said.

And she learned Iceland had some disagreements with the United States about a variety of topics. One of them was about trade agreements.

So she asked what they had to trade and learned it was fish.

“I said, ‘Guess what we have to trade in Texas? We have beef,” she said. “That is a good starting negotiating” tool.

Border crisis

Granger, who has served in Congress since 1997, also talked about her work in 2014 regarding the border crisis.

Protesters opposed to the policy of separating children from parents at the border show up outside Granger’s Fort Worth office nearly every week. They carry signs that deliver many messages, including “Keep Families Together.”

But she talked about her work five years ago, when she pushed then-House Speaker John Boehner to create a congressional task force to study the problem.

She learned children were being sent without other family members, traveling with so-called coyotes — people paid thousands of dollars to bring children or adults into the United States — from countries as far away as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Granger said the solution was to reunite children with family in the country they came from or, if that wasn’t possible, to reunite them with family in the United States.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.
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