Silvestre "Silver" Reyes (born November 10, 1944) is the U.S. Representative for Texas's 16th congressional district, serving since 1997, and the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the primary Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives charged with the oversight of the United States Intelligence Community, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and other executive branch departments and agencies. Reyes is also a Senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee, the primary Committee responsible for the funding and oversight of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the United States Armed Forces, as well as substantial portions of the Department of Energy. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
Reyes was born in Canutillo, Texas, in 1944 and is the first of 10 children. He graduated from Canutillo High School and received his Associate's Degree from El Paso Community College. He attended the University of Texas at Austin before serving in the United States Army in 1966. In 1967, Reyes served as a helicopter crew chief in the Vietnam War. In 1968, Reyes suffered complete hearing loss to his right ear when mortar landed near his foxhole during combat.
In 1969, Reyes joined the U.S. Border Patrol where he served for over 26 years. From 1984 - 1995 Reyes served as the Sector Chief for the McAllen and El Paso Sectors of the Border Patrol. In 1993, while serving as the Chief Patrol Agent of the El Paso Border Patrol Sector, Reyes led the Border Patrol to strategically position agents on the border to intercept Illegal immigrants in a strategy later termed "Operation Hold the Line". This operation was the predecessor to a similar operation dubbed "Operation Gatekeeper" in Southern California. Such tactics were not without controversy, as placing Border Patrol Agents in high visibility positions placed them at tremendous risk from rock and firearms assaults from the Mexican side of the border. Immigrant-rights groups also protested the strategy, as it was effective in deterring Illegal aliens from crossing in protected urban areas such as El Paso and San Diego, California and as such "forced" them to cross through desolate parts of the Southern United States, such as the deserts of the Imperial Valley in California and the Sonora desert in Arizona. Reyes gained enormous popularity in the 16th Congressional District due to the Operation's success in reducing illegal immigration.