Michelle Vallejo is the only candidate to be nominated by the people of TX-15 to represent them in Congress. Through a pueblo-powered process with LUPE Votes, Michelle proudly accepted the nomination and pledged to advocate for the Pueblo Platform, which seeks to advance the rights of all working-class people in South Texas.
AFFORDABLE HIGH QUALITY HEALTH CARE
South Texans deserve better than the ineffective health care that leaves many underinsured, uninsured, and one trip to the hospital away from bankruptcy. No one should have to cross the border into Mexico for affordable medical care and treatment, but that’s the reality in South Texas. Michelle’s mother passed away at age 46 and had to travel to Mexico for health care because she couldn’t afford it here in Texas. Michelle knows that is the story of many Valley families, which is why she will fight to make sure we have access to affordable, quality health care and to keep rural hospitals open.
While the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage for millions of Americans, there are still too many who can’t afford health care. Texas’ Republican leaders refused to expand Medicaid, leaving thousands of South Texans without care. Now, we have the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country.
Michelle believes we should expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing, prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse treatment, long-term and disability care. As the richest country in the history of the world, it’s time we invest in our people’s health. Let’s start closing the gap by extending Medicare to those who are 50 years or older.
GOOD-PAYING JOBS AND BUILDING A THRIVING ECONOMY
For decades wages have been nearly stagnant. At the same time, the cost of gas, goods, food, housing, and health care has continued to climb. According to the US Census, the average sales price of a home in the US more than doubled from 2000 to 2021 (Average Sales Price of Houses Sold for the United States (ASPUS) | FRED | St. Louis Fed (stlouisfed.org)).
Hard-working South Texans deserve a raise. Michelle supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and tying it to inflation so wages never fall behind again. No American should have to work two or three jobs to support their family and make ends meet.
ENERGY JOBS AND INVESTING IN OUR FUTURE
Thousands of South Texans are impacted by devastating floods, as a result of the increasing rate of climate change and natural disasters, and costing taxpayers billions of dollars in flood damage. Michelle strongly supports the bipartisan infrastructure law that will bring billions of dollars to South Texas to upgrade our drainage, roads and bridges.
Michelle believes we need to make major investments in clean and renewable energy so we can lower costs for Texas families and create thousands of jobs that can’t be outsourced. Texas should be leading the world in the manufacturing and deployment of advanced batteries, wind turbines and solar panels, but if we don’t act quickly we will allow other countries to dominate the market and fall further behind in combating climate change.
South Texans know that a four-year degree isn’t the only path to a career. Community colleges and trade schools also provide high-paying, stable jobs to support our families. Unfortunately, sky-rocketing tuition costs for public college and trade school have made higher education inaccessible for too many South Texans.
As someone still paying off her student loans, Michelle knows the burden student debt can place on Valley families. Graduates shouldn’t be crushed under the weight of unreasonable student loans just because they couldn’t afford it or didn’t come from a wealthy family. She supports making trade school and community college tuition-free, so more South Texans can get the skills they need for a good job.
Whether you were born here or moved here, you become a South Texan when you work hard and leave things better for those to come. South Texans welcome newcomers. We share meals with our family and neighbors, regardless of citizenship status. We make our region more just and livable for all when we unite across differences. Everyone deserves the same opportunity to work hard and earn a better life for their families
Michelle is committed to securing our border while treating migrants with dignity and upholding their legal right to seek asylum. That means ensuring that our law enforcement agencies have the manpower to better respond to drug and human trafficking while also ensuring they have the right to collectively bargain for better working conditions. That means making our asylum process more efficient by investing in border infrastructure to ensure all ports of entry are equipped with the resources to handle the backlog of individuals seeking asylum and refining our enforcement practices to become more conscious of humanitarian needs. The bottom line is an investment in border infrastructure is an investment in border security.
We must also pass a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have worked hard, followed the law and contributed to their communities. We can fix our broken immigration system and treat immigrants seeking the American Dream with humanity and provide hard working families with a legal, permanent, and safe path to citizenship.
Campaign finance reform
It’s time to end the corruption plaguing South Texas politics that allows big corporate donors to dominate our political system with politiqueros and politicos vendidos. We need to repeal Citizens United and ban corporate Super PACs. We need pueblo-powered small donors to support our elected leaders. No more pay-for-play in our government that enriches big donors and leaves the working class behind.
In the last four decades, we’ve seen wages stagnant while the top 1% get richer. The coronavirus pandemic has left thousands of South Texans in unstable economic conditions while billionaire wealth has surged. It’s time for Wall Street, corporations, and billionaires to pay their fair share so that we can close the gaps that have hurt the working and middle class in America.
PROTECT + EXPAND SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE
Republicans would jeopardize Social Security by raising the retirement age, reducing earnings, and privatizing the system. Social Security has provided our parents and grandparents a dignified retirement for generations and we can’t risk gambling away their hard-earned benefits on Wall Street. Michelle will always protect the Social Security benefits you’ve earned through a lifetime of work.
Michelle strongly supports allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and expanding Medicare benefits to include dental, vision and hearing services for our seniors who have earned these benefits.
PROTECTING WORKERS AND EXPANDING THE ECONOMY
Every year, billions of dollars of trade comes across our ports of entry, making cross-border trade one of the most important components of our local economy. For far too long, South Texas has been exploited by Fortune 500 companies for cheap labor in the maquiladoras along the Texas-Mexico border. Unfair trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) shifted good paying, union jobs south of the border for sweatshop wages, including South Texas and the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone. We will fight for trade deals that protect workers, the environment, and human rights while ensuring bad actors are held accountable when violating labor and environmental laws. We need to embrace the border as a place of fusing ideas, culture, and encourage innovation to flourish.
Whatever our race, background or zip code, we all want to move through our communities without fearing for our lives or our loved ones. But the people entrusted to serve and protect our communities target, detain and even kill our neighbors like Jorge Gonzalez-Zuñiga. The War on Drugs and the dismantling of social safety nets have ravaged communities of color. We now have the largest prison population in the world and many of those prisons are here in South Texas. It’s time for liberty and justice to be for all. We must end mandatory minimum sentencing, cash bail, solitary confinement, private prisons, qualified immunity, and prioritizing investing in mental health resources and services for our community. It’s time to reform our justice system with stronger civilian review boards and violence interruption programs. In order to have the care, security and support every one of us needs, we need to rebuild a justice system to be based on redemption, not punishment.
Every South Texan deserves equal protection and justice, regardless of who they are and who they love. LGBTQ+ families and individuals are part of the fabric of our communities and they should be able to live free of discrimination. It’s been long overdue for Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would explicitly ban any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender. We need to fight for a health care system that ensures our LGBTQ+ community has access to the services they need.
PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
Texans have lived in world where abortion is illegal for months after Republicans passed their extreme abortion ban that provides no exceptions for rape or incest, and even endangers the health of the mother. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, it is more important than ever that we establish the right to safe,legal abortion.
Republicans are trying to make all abortions illegal and put doctors and women in jail for seeking one, but they won’t stop there. They’re also threatening access to birth control and other reproductive health care. Women should have the right to make their own decisions with their families, their faith, and their doctors – and should not be criminalized for those choices.
END GUN VIOLENCE
We need to protect our communities from gun violence to prevent another tragedy like what happened in El Paso in 2019 and Uvalde earlier this year. South Texans aren’t afraid of guns – we grew up shooting at gun ranges and hunting on family ranches. But we also know that common-sense gun safety measures can prevent gun violence in America and still respect the Second Amendment. Michelle strongly supports the bipartisan gun safety bill written by Texas Sen. John Cornyn that strengthened background checks and funded red flag laws that will help keep firearms out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or others.We should not let the gun lobby write one-sided laws that jeopardize public safety and our children’s future.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law one of the worst voting restrictions since the Jim Crow era in Sept. 2021, making it harder for Texans of all parties and backgrounds to vote. Just this March, over 12% of all mail-in ballots – nearly 25,000 Texans’ votes - were rejected and not counted. That’s 1 in 8 mail-in voters who lost their voice at the ballot, regardless of political party.
All Americans have a right to fair and equal access to the ballot, and it’s time to pass the For The People Act that would end gerrymandering of congressional districts and allow early voting, mail-in voting, and campaign finance transparency.
PROGRESSIVE FOREIGN POLICY
We have to lead by example and use our bargaining power to encourage countries to improve labor, environmental, and human rights across the world. Combating climate change is very much dependent on changing our foreign policy to stop the disproportionate emission contributions from our military and trade deals.
And most importantly, enough with sending our young people to the frontlines fighting wars for defense contractors and big donors.
PROTECTING OUR VETERANS
America is the greatest country in the world. We have to lead by example and use our bargaining power to encourage countries to improve labor, environmental, and human rights across the world. And most importantly, enough with sending our young people to the frontlines.
We need to invest in our troops and veterans by improving Veterans Affairs (VA) services and their health benefits to include free dental, vision, and other medical care. We need to provide universal housing for homeless veterans and access to mental health services to stop the public health crisis of veteran suicide.
The current VA health care system is failing our veterans and we must recruit better nurses, doctors, and mental health professionals. This is why it’s imperative we fight for a VA hospital in the Rio Grande Valley and increase veteran access to health care resources as close to where they live as possible. Veterans who selflessly fought for our country shouldn’t have to drive hours for necessary medical services.
LOWERING COSTS FOR FAMILIES
Michelle sees the impact of rising costs on families every day at Pulga Los Portales, the community market she runs. More customers are coming every week to find affordable produce and food, and bargain for cheaper home goods that are too expensive at the grocery store.
The biggest cost facing many families continues to be rising health care and prescription drug costs. That’s why Michelle will take on the drug and insurance companies to lower prices and make health care affordable for every Valley family. Michelle’s mother battled multiple sclerosis for 15 long years, and was forced to go to Mexico for affordable treatment and drugs. No American should be forced to go across the border for the care they need in the richest country on earth.
In addition, Michelle knows we need to strengthen our supply chain by bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. We can lower costs and put Americans to work by keeping those jobs here, instead of foreign countries.
Michelle also supports investing in Texas’ wind and solar energy production, which can help stabilize our grid and lower electricity costs for South Texas families.
Finally, Michelle believes wages must keep up with inflation. That’s why she supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and tying it to inflation so Americans’ incomes aren’t stolen by inflation.