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A California Democrat is the first LGBTQ immigrant in Congress. Now he’s ready to work

Rep. Robert Garcia

Gillian Brassil | The Fresno Bee | Feb. 1, 2023

[Congressman Robert] Garcia [D-Long Beach] is the first LGBTQ immigrant in Congress. His intersectional upbringing as a Latino, gay and formerly-undocumented immigrant is powerful, said Irene Kao, the executive director of Courage California, a progressive accountability organization. “Sometimes there can be a focus on isolating an issue from all other issues,” Kao said in a January interview. “So having somebody with his specific experience and with his specific identity is important. It’s about how do we push LGBTQ rights beyond what people think of strictly as LGBTQ rights; how we also care for LGBTQ immigrants, or undocumented LGBTQ people.”

Ideas Garcia touted there and in Congress include access to education — such as Long Beach’s program for tuition-free years at community college — and Medicare for all, things Kao praised as ones “that families need in order to be safe and secure and have opportunities to really be successful.”

“It’s really significant to have a progressive champion like Robert Garcia coming out of a place that’s not LA, the city, or the Bay Area, specifically like San Francisco,” said Kao of Courage California.

Kao noted the importance of Long Beach becoming a sanctuary city when Garcia was mayor.