Robert Garcia, who currently serves as the Mayor of Long Beach, California, will become the first Peruvian person to serve in U.S. Congress. Garcia, a favorite to win, joins Rep. David Cicilline as the second openly LGBTQ+ mayor to serve in Congress ... ever.
Garcia, who is also the first immigrant to serve as mayor of Long Beach and the first openly gay man to hold the title in his city, immigrated from Peru at five years old. According to Metro Latino USA, he arrived in Los Angeles, California, on a temporary visa and didn’t yet speak English.
"My mom brought me to America not knowing English,” he said in an interview with People’s World. “Without an education, and without the right immigration status. We came here on a temporary visa and stayed past its expiration date.” He went on to thank “progressive change” in immigration law for allowing his family to apply for permanent legal residency.
“I became a U.S. citizen at 21,” he continued. “It was the happiest day of my life.”
As mayor and as a congressional candidate, Garcia has focused on both queer issues and immigration issues, wanting to make it more accessible for folks to gain legal residency and become citizens. He’s also been passionate about providing aid and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic; he lost both his mother and stepfather to COVID-19, according to Equality PAC, making the public health crisis especially personal. He worked so hard to provide residents with mobile testing and vaccine clinics that California Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated his efforts. So did the White House.
You can check out some local footage from when he announced his candidacy below.
Here he shared his experience losing two parents to COVID-19.
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