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Eligio (Kika) de la Garza Congressional Papers

 Collection — Container: 78
Identifier: ELIBR-0078

Scope and Contents

The Congressional Papers of Eligio "Kika" de la Garza consist of approximately 425 linear feet of materials dating from 1965 - 1996. The bulk of the papers date from 1965-1980 and 1989-1996. The papers were created during Kika de la Garza's time as an elected official in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 - 1996, representing the 15th Congressional District in South Texas.


  • 1965 - 1996
  • Majority of material found in 1965-1980; 1989-1996


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley assumes no responsibility.

Series 5, Case Files, is restricted until the year 2045.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in our collections may be protected by copyright. Publication, transmission, or reproduction of items protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Whenever possible, accurate information about the copyright status of material is provided in the item record and/or documentation for material in the collection. The Library does not own the copyright in much of the material in its collection and is therefore unable to grant copyright permission to publish those items. It is the researcher's responsibility to determine copyright or other use restrictions and obtain proper permission when publishing or distributing materials found in these collections. Researchers must make their own assessments of rights in light of their intended use. Additional information about copyright and fair use is available via the Library's Copyright Guide at

Biographical / Historical

Eligio "Kika" de la Garza represented South Texas in both the Texas State Legislature (1952-1964) and the U.S. House of Representatives (1965-1996). His family can trace its roots in the Rio Grande Valley area to the early 1700's.

Born in Mercedes, Hidalgo County, Texas on September 22, 1927, de la Garza grew up in Mission where he attended Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School and Mission High School. At age 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served until 1946. He continued his education at Edinburg Junior College and the U.S. Army Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. De la Garza served in the Korean conflict as a second lieutenant with the Army's Thirty-seventh Division Artillery. In 1952, he earned a law degree from St. Mary's University in San Antonio (where he was later awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree). That same year he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives.

De la Garza launched his career in public service with numerous legislative accomplishments, including the absorption of Pan American University into the University of Texas system, and the creation of the Texas Water Commission and the Reagan/de la Garza coastal wetlands. He was the driving force behind legislation creating the nation's first state-run system of English language instruction for pre-school age children. He also sponsored a bill allowing Texas' border cities and counties to build their own international bridges.

After six consecutive terms in Austin, Representative de la Garza was elected in 1964 to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Texas' 15th District, and has been either unopposed or reelected by wide margins ever since.

Because he hails from a district with a large agricultural base, de la Garza became a member of the Committee on Agriculture. In 1967 he served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Department Operations and Foreign Agriculture. From 1981 to 1994 de la Garza was the Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, becoming the first Hispanic since 1917 (when Ladislas Lazaro chaired the Enrolled Bills Committee) to chair a standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

During his tenure as Chairman, Representative de la Garza successfully led the way for the House to pass three omnibus farm bills (1981, 1985, and 1990), a major overhaul of the agricultural lending system, Federal crop insurance reform, a major reorganization of the USDA, reforms in Federal pesticide laws, and numerous other measures to assist U.S. agriculture, encourage rural economic development, and improve human nutrition. In 1976 de la Garza became one of the founding members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which he chaired from 1989 to 1991.

A strong supporter of civil rights safeguard for minorities, de la Garza has successfully fought for improved access to health care for the elderly and veterans, better living conditions for low-income individuals and the impoverished, and access to educational opportunities for all Americans. Also an influential proponent of free trade, de la Garza was instrumental in the passage of both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the expansion of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). One of Congress' leading experts on U.S.-Mexican relations, de la Garza has worked to improve relations and trade between the two countries throughout his congressional career.

In 1966, he became the first congressman from the Texas-Mexico border area to serve on the Mexico-United States Interparliamentary Group, which promotes dialogue between legislators from the two countries. He has served as chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' delegation to that group since 1978. That same year, in recognition of his outstanding work, Mexico's President José López Portillo awarded him the Order of the Aztec Eagle -- the highest honor Mexico can bestow on a foreigner.

[Biography adapted from Library of Congress, Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-2010,].


424.00 Linear Feet

332 Boxes (Record Boxes)

22 Document cases

135 Oversized boxes

Language of Materials



Arranged into series and subseries, chronologically and alphabetically.

Other Descriptive Information

Funding for processing the papers was provided through a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.


Please contact University Library, Special Collections and University Archives at (956) 665-2726 or via email at for more information and requests.

Diane Tyink 2012
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus Repository

ELIBR 1.104
University Library
1201 West University Drive
Edinburg TX 78539-2999
(956) 665-2726