Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) Exclusive Interview With Ethnic Media

Senator Alex Padilla

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

On January 20th, Alex Padilla was sworn in as California ́s Junior Senator, the first Latino in that position in the state’s history. In his maiden speech on the Senate floor, he spoke with pride about being the son of Mexican immigrants.

He is the Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Safety and his first bill calls for the legalization of more than 5 million essential workers, just like his parents were. Senator Padilla updated ethnic media on the progress of immigration reform measures and the role of the filibuster, among other issues at the EMS briefing on April 16.

Though not the only first-generation American currently serving in the Senate, Padilla is the only first-generation child of Mexican parents to ever serve. Padilla’s parents immigrated to California from Mexico, ultimately settling in Pacoima in the San Fernando Valley north of downtown Los Angeles. His father worked as a cook while his mother cleaned houses.  His parents became naturalized citizens after Proposition 187 passed.

Senator Alex Padilla

Padilla explained that the sacrifices they made allowed him to receive an education at MIT. “I think it’s evidence that the American dream is alive,” he said. “It’s been under threat in recent years, but it’s alive, and it’s important to keep it alive and accessible for future generations.”

Recounting his childhood, Padilla noted that his father, a short-order cook, and his mother, who cleaned houses, instilled the values in him and his siblings of doing well in school, and service to others. Senator Padila said he saw his parents get involved in the community and proud to have their examples, which has inspired his public service. He served on the Los Angeles City Council, served two terms in the California State Senate, and was eventually named Secretary of state, where he defended the voting rights of all Californians.

Padilla’s first bill, called the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, would provide a pathway to citizenship for over 5 million essential workers in the U.S. illegally who were on the front lines of the pandemic. Essential workers risk their lives every day to keep our country running. 

Workers in health care, meatpacking, agriculture, public transit and other industries strive to ensure our neighbors have basic necessities and are cared for. During the pandemic, these are people who have risked their lives to keep our economy and country running. The bill provides undocumented essential workers with a fast, accessible, and secure path to citizenship, beginning with immediate adjustment of status to legal permanent resident. Dignity, respect, and citizenship for essential workers is personal for me and in the best interest of our country.

In the letter, the lawmakers are requesting Biden to include H.R 1909/S. 747, aka the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, as a top priority in the American Family Plan the name of the second part of Biden’s potential infrastructure package. Senator Padilla said there is a bipartisan support for most of the reform bills.  We’ll exercise as many options as we can, whether it’s through straight legislation, or otherwise, to continue to make progress and get it passed, said Senator Padilla.  He adds that it’s still crucial to support the undocumented residents living in the U.S. They deserve security. They deserve stability. They deserve a pathway to citizenship.”

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