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California Congressional Races to Watch in 2012

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12091242 (posted Sep. 12, 2012)"

CALIFORNIA - Congressional Races to Watch

  • Record number of 1st and 2nd generation candidates running
  • 2 Seats rated "Toss ups"

This November there will likely be increases in Hispanic members of Congress in both the Republican and Democratic parties. The main Hispanic gains are expected in California congressional races.

Three Hispanic candidates are considered very likely to win this fall:

  • Tony Cardenas (D), the youngest of 11 children of immigrant farmers from Jalisco, Mexico, has served in the California Assembly and on the Los Angeles City Council. He is running to represent the San Fernando Valley, District 29. He is running against David R. Hernandez (R).
  • Juan Vargas (D) is a state senator and son of Mexican immigrants. He is running to represent the 51st District. He is running against Michael Crimmins (R).
  • David Valadao (R) is a state assemblyman and son of Portuguese immigrants and running to represent the Central Valley, District 21. He is running against John Hernandez (D).

In competitive seats in California, both parties are running Hispanic candidates against non-Hispanic incumbents.

  • Jose Hernandez, the former astronaut, is a Democrat challenging first-term GOP Rep. Jeff Denham in the newly drawn 10th Congressional District (Modesto Area). As a child Hernandez helped his parents in the field and went on to study engineering in college. He makes his roots a big part of his appeal to voters, telling the story of how he watched the Apollo 17 launch on TV and his father laid out how he could become an astronaut himself. "I was able to rise from the fields of California and touch the sky on the space shuttle Discovery as an astronaut," he said when he announced his campaign last October.
  • Democrats also have high hopes for Raul Ruiz in District 36 (Coachella Valley); a medical doctor who grew up in a trailer with his Mexican farmworker parents and has received three graduate degrees from Harvard. Ruiz is running against GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack, who has been in Congress since 1998.
  • Incumbent Democrat, Rep. Lois Capps, has her work cut out for her in the upcoming general election in District 24. Rep. Capps' former district was staunchly Democratic, but due to redistricting, Democrats now make up only 39% of the newly drawn 24th District. Republican registration comes in at 35%, and a fifth of voters are not affiliated with a political party. Republican candidate Abel Maldonado's campaign ads highlight his background-his parents are Mexican immigrant farmers who eventually built their own farming business-and show him standing in a strawberry field and talking about what he learned from his father.

Two California Seats rated as "Toss-Ups"

District 52 (San Diego Area)

Scott Peters (D)
From his Campaign Website:
We need a policy that's tough, fair, and practical. It needs to be tough on border security to prevent people from trying to smuggle guns, drugs or people. It needs to be fair to taxpayers, and it needs to be a practical solution that will finally address the problem.

We've got to crack down on employers who knowingly traffic in illegal immigration. We also must understand the economic disparity between Mexico and United States -- two countries that share one of the longest borders in the world. One way to address it is to improve the legal commerce that takes place across the border. Modern trade and security technology can speed up legal commerce, and the revenue it produces on both sides of the border will reduce the pressure that drives people across it.

Immigration affects our entire region. The last thing we need is more pontificating from those in Washington -- without real solutions. Brian Bilbray is a master at the microphone on immigration demagoguery, but he has done nothing to address the problem. I'll work with our entire San Diego delegation to tackle this head-on and work towards real, common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform.

Brian Bilbray (R), incumbent, Chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus
From his Campaign Website:
As Chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, I have worked across party lines to secure our border and fight against amnesty. As a nation, we need to ensure respect for the laws of this country and fairness for the millions of immigrants who came here legally and have waited in line. We also need to recognize that a weak border provides easy access to our nation and our people for those who would cause harm including terrorists, illegal drug smugglers, and other violent criminals.

The solution to the illegal immigration problem requires both short-term and long-term action. We need to finish the fence between the United States and Mexico. This should include the use of new, enhanced technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles. We need to increase the number of agents patrolling the border and the number of Immigration Control Enforcement (ICE) agents who should focus more on interior enforcement and train local authorities throughout the nation to assist them. However, more importantly, we need to identify and aggressively prosecute exploitive employers who continue to hire illegal immigrants. This is why I took the lead in demanding that all federal contractors use the new 'E-Verify' system to make sure taxpayer's money only goes to paychecks for individuals who are in this country legally.

At the end of the day, I think we need to remember that taxpayers are being forced to pay a steep price - in both money and in violent crime - for the federal government's failure to address the immigration issue. In addition to that, we need to remember that the human smuggling, prostitution, murder and virtual enslavement of human beings drawn to this nation by private sector and taxpayer-funded jobs is a crisis that is best addressed by securing not only the border, but the job market, as well.

District 7 (Sacramento)

One of the most watched and hotly contested races in the country pits incumbent Representative Dan Lungren (R) (who currently serves on the House Judiciary Committee) and newcomer Dr. Ami Bera, the child of Indian immigrants and the former chief medical officer for Sacramento County.

Dan Lungren (R), incumbent
From his official Congressional website
The United States Constitution in Article 1 Section 8 places the responsibility for the regulation of immigration with Congress. It is my belief that as a sovereign nation we must meet this responsibility and regain control over our borders. In order to do so we must continue to increase the size of the border patrol by 2000 positions each year and we must double the number of workplace inspectors to enforce the unlawful hiring of illegal aliens. I have co-authored with my colleagues Nathan Deal and Brian Bilbray is the Birthright Citizenship Act (H.R. 1868). The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside." The Birthright Citizenship Act states that a person born in the United States shall be considered 'subject to the jurisdiction' of the United States if born of parents, one of whom is a citizen or national of the U.S.; an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States whose residence is in the United States; or an alien performing active service in the armed forces. The children of those unlawfully present would not qualify for birthright citizenship.

In regard to the question of amnesty, I will oppose any bill brought to the floor of the House that includes an amnesty provision that confers citizenship status. My major concern relates to the fact that there are millions of legal immigrants who wait years in order to obtain permanent residence and citizenship. It violates both fairness and respect for the law to allow those who have entered our country illegally to "cut in the front of the line" through the adoption of an amnesty provision.

Dr. Ami Bera (D)
Dr. Bera does include immigration issue on his campaign website, but has made statements regarding immigration in a news interview

Dr. Bera highlighted that he is a son of Indian immigrants who came here legally and stated: "We should have a legal path to citizenship and then we should enforce those laws. We should hold employees accountable; we should hold individuals accountable."

He also says we should have a legal work visa program. "We know there are certain industries where we need a work force. If there are those jobs were we can't certain people to work, we should have a work visa program."

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