LOS ANGELES — As of Saturday, former Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia officially became the first openly LGBTQ+ immigrant to serve in Congress today.
Garcia was sworn into the House of Representatives early Saturday Washington time, four days later than scheduled because Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, was unable to obtain the required number of votes by the 15th ballot early Saturday to be elected speaker to become.
“It’s about time,” the Democrat said. “The American people deserve a government that works for them, and now I can finally work for the people of California.
“As the first LGBTQ+ immigrant in Congress, I am committed to building an inclusive, strong, and prosperous community. I will work with my colleagues to defend democracy, make meaningful progress on immigration reform, and improve infrastructure in our cities to ensure families in Long Beach and Southeast Los Angeles can thrive in the years to come ‘ Garcia added.
House rules prohibit members from being sworn in until a spokesperson has been elected.
Garcia said he’s running to represent the 42nd Circuit “because I want every single kid in our country to have the same opportunity that this country gave me.”
Garcia, who served as Mayor of Long Beach from 2014 to December 20, defeated Republican John Briscoe, then a member of the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees, 68.4% to 31.6% in the race to succeed Alan Lowenthal , who retired after representing the district since 2013.
Portions of the district were represented by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who retired after serving in Congress since 1993.
The district runs north from Long Beach through Lakewood, Bellflower and Downey to Huntington Park. It also includes the islands of Santa Catalina and San Clemente.
When Garcia was 5 years old, he moved to the United States with his parents and other relatives from Lima, Peru. In a biography provided by his campaign, Garcia said: “My mother brought me to America with no English skills, no education and no proper immigration status. We came here on a temporary visa and stayed past the expiry date.
“But thanks to a gradual change in immigration law passed by Congress in the 1980s, we were able to apply for permanent legal residency. I became a US citizen when I was 21. It was the happiest day of my life.”
Garcia, as a member of the House of Representatives, has pledged to support legislation to:
— Make the United States the “world leader in pandemic prevention, biosecurity and biosecurity planning”
— Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 from $7.25, where it has been since 2009
— Extension of paid family leave
— Change overtime rules
— Set up public banks
— Offer universal childcare
— Guarantee pre-school education
— Expanding routes to citizenship for immigrants in the country without legal permission
— Expand affordable and barrier-free housing
Garcia describes himself as a comic nerd, educator, and “progressive and proud American”.
Defending against critics that he continued to read comics at the age of 45, he explained in a Nov. 14 tweet: “For everyone who is upset that I still read comics and suggesting that I read more seriously must…um…anybody who understands comics knows that comics are an integral part of American fiction. And the knowledge gained is invaluable.”
Garcia was elected president of the freshman class of House Democrats.
His mother, Gaby O’Donnell, died in late July 2020 at the age of 61 from complications related to the coronavirus. His stepfather, Greg O’Donnell, died of complications from COVID-19 on August 9, 2020, at the age of 58, the day after the family had a memorial service for Garcia’s mother.
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/07/former-long-beach-mayor-robert-garcia-sworn-into-u-s-house/ Former Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia Sworn Into US House of Representatives – Orange County Register