Luis Saenz

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José Centeno-Meléndez
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Luis Vargas Saenz Jr. is a Cameron County district attorney in Brownsville, Texas. However, the path to a seat at the front of the courtroom wasn’t easy.

Saenz was born Aug. 8, 1951, in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to Luis Saenz and Filomena Vargas Saenz.

His parents divorced when he was 5, leaving Filomena to raise six children. The family would travel north each year to do farm work for 60 cents an hour.

His mother stressed education; when he was in high school, she sold Avon cosmetics door to door so she could buy him a typewriter and an encyclopedia set. He added Vargas as his middle name as a tribute to her.

Saenz graduated from high school in 1970 and attended Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University-Kingsville). He graduated in 1974 with a double major in English and Spanish.

In 1975, he began teaching junior high English for Brownsville Independent School District.

Saenz decided to attend law school and was accepted into the University of Texas School of Law.

He passed the bar exam on May 5, 1984. Five days later, he walked across the stage at graduation, holding up his State Bar card as his name was called.

Saenz has held various positions in the Brownsville community, including BISD school board president, Cameron County magistrate judge, and now district attorney. His current term expires in 2020.

Saenz says he feels fortunate to serve the people of Brownsville.

“As an elected official, you always have to remind yourself that the position, the title -- it’s not yours,” Saenz said. “You’re just trying to do what’s right for the people and just call it as it is. It’s never popular doing the right thing, but you got to do it.”