A Diverse Voice
By Democratic Congressional Candidate Veronica Escobar, El Paso, TX
Iwas fortunate to grow up in El Paso, Texas, a community in the Chihuahuan
desert, nestled at the foot of the Franklin Mountains on the U.S.-Mexico border.
On the other side of the Rio Grande is Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, our sister city.
There is a fluidity of two countries, two languages, and two cultures here, and
when I was growing up going back and forth across the border was routine. El
Paso and Juárez are, in many ways, one community, with economies, families
and an environment deeply interconnected. No matter how hard some might
try to build walls or separate people, the interdependency that is part of our
international border is a force unto itself. It is challenging, complex and filled with
opportunity. And because of all that, residents on both sides are tremendously
resilient, which is an important part of what makes ours a wonderful region
to live in – a region that has shaped my identity, views and values.
Veronica Escobar is a third-generation El
Pasoan who has dedicated herself to the
betterment of the community. She is proud
to have served as County Judge where she was
able to have an extraordinary impact on the
lives of El Pasoans. Judge Escobar expanded
access to affordable healthcare through her
support of the El Paso County Hospital
District, which has provided vital services for
the community and built two new, modern clinics
that provide primary care to some of the
poorest El Pasoans. She was also instrumental
in the foundation of El Paso Children’s Hospital,
the only stand-alone children’s hospital on the
border. Judge Escobar served two terms as El
Paso County Judge, and previously served one
term as County Commissioner for Precinct 2.
It was profound community pride combined
with concern for the future that motivated me
to get involved politically in the mid 1990s,
initially as an immigrant rights advocate,
then as a volunteer on political campaigns.
Ultimately, that same passion for my region
inspired me to run for elected office myself,
first in local government, where I served for
over a decade, and this year, for Texas’ 16th
congressional district (I won the democratic
primary in March). It’s the lessons I’ve
learned in El Paso that I hope to take with
me to Congress in 2019.
For example, El Pasoans know first-hand that
welcoming, not targeting, immigrants makes
a community safer, stronger, and more vibrant.
We have much to contribute to the debate
about immigration in general and DREAMers
in particular. It is our embrace of immigrants
that has helped make us consistently one of
the safest cities in America. El Pasoans also
know that teaching children to be bilingual
and biliterate opens them up to new ways of
thinking and helps prepare them to be world
citizens. That’s why so many of our schools
have dual language and, in some cases, multilanguage
immersion programs. And, finally,
El Pasoans know that our community is more
prosperous when we create access to healthcare
for everyone. That’s why, as one of the least
insured communities in our state, we took our
future into our own hands and built our very
own Children’s Hospital and public primary
care health clinics so that those in need
would have the access to care they deserve.
Immigration and healthcare are at the
center of critical debates in Washington,
D.C., and communities like mine have much
to bring to those debates. But too often,
policy makers who have no understanding of
the needs of communities like mine seem
uninterested in thoughtful discussion and
prefer quick soundbites intended to divide
or frighten people instead.
That’s why diverse voices are necessary.
Institutions like Congress badly need people
with varied experiences and backgrounds.
And that's why I’m so proud to be among a
record number of women (and women of
color!) running for Congress. I am confident our
perspectives will make a historic difference in
our nation’s capital. If elected in November,
it will be a tremendous honor for this Latina to
represent my beloved home and the border’s
48 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol. 24, No. 2, 2018