Texas congressional leaders say more must be done to protect the border

Photo of officials, including U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (middle), who went on a tour of the Rio Grande Valley
Photo of officials, including U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (middle), who went on a tour of the Rio Grande Valley Courtesy

Texas congressmen who recently toured the Rio Grande Valley border weren’t happy with what they saw.

The group included Republican U.S. Reps. Michael Burgess of Lewisville, Lamar Smith of San Antonio and Sam Johnson of Plano.

“A country that has lost control of its border has lost control of its future,” said Smith, who heads the Border Security Caucus. “Despite the story the Obama administration is telling, illegal border crossings remain abnormally high.”

He and others said much more needs to be done to boost border security.

“The flood of illegal immigrants on the southern border has proven to be a mounting American crisis, greatly impacting Texas families,” Burgess said. “[The recent] visit to the border has only reaffirmed my commitment to protecting and strengthening our borders, prioritizing the safety of American citizens above all.”

New city appointment

Robert Sturns has been named Fort Worth’s economic development director.

Sturns had been serving as interim director since July. He has been with the city of Fort Worth for 12 years, some of that working in the economic development department. He was previously the economic development manager for the city of Arlington.

It’s a boy!

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, and his wife, Anna, are new parents of a baby boy, Roman Victor Castro, born Feb. 2 in San Antonio at 7.5 pounds and 20.25 inches. Castro’s identical twin, Julian Castro, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also has a daughter and baby son. In a statement, Joaquin Castro said, “Both mom and baby are healthy, and Andrea is excited to be a big sister!”

On the trail

Texas politicos are out in force on the presidential campaign — former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is heading to South Carolina for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Perry, who dropped out of the race in September, endorsed Cruz just before the Iowa caucuses and stoked up the crowd at some Iowa events.

Perry had one of his memorable slips while campaigning in Des Moines. He was giving an impassioned speech praising Cruz as a “consistent conservative” then introduced the next speaker, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, as a “convicted conservative.”

On the Democratic side, former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower is an official surrogate for presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. Hightower, who was also in Iowa, will be in Denton on Valentine’s Day at an event for Sanders.

Texas challenges

There are some longtime U.S. House incumbents that are getting unexpectedly tough primary challenges in the March 1 Texas primary.

In East Texas, well-known conservative U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, is facing self-funded rancher Simon Winston of Lufkin, and Winston’s infusion of $305,000 into the campaign caught Gohmert lagging in fundraising.

The congressman, who has never faced a primary opponent since he was elected in 2004, was just endorsed by Cruz.

There is a third Republican running against Gohmert, Tyler’s Anthony Culler, who has a personal dispute with him over a sheriff searching his Nacogdoches ranch.

In Houston, GOP U.S. Rep. John Culberson is being challenged from the right by attorney James Lloyd and Maria Espinoza, an anti-immigration activist. Prominent conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who helped defeat then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has endorsed Espinoza.

Staff writer Sandra Baker contributed to this report.

Maria Recio, 202-383-6103

Twitter: @maria_e_recio

Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley