Congresswoman Norma Torres

Representing the 35th District of California
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Reps. Torres and Ros-Lehtinen Launch "New Americans Caucus" Highlighting Immigrants Serving in Congress

February 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Reps. Norma J. Torres (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced the creation of the New Americans Caucus to celebrate the growing number of new Americans serving in the United States Congress.  The group, comprised of first-generation immigrants, will provide a forum to inform all Members of Congress about the issues affecting new Americans and an opportunity to discuss how immigrants help strengthen the fabric of America.


“Through this new Caucus, we hope to show the important roles that first generation immigrants play not only in the U.S. Congress but throughout this entire country and to encourage other new Americans to get involved and become leaders in their communities,” said Torres.  “It wasn’t until California’s divisive, anti-immigrant Proposition 187 that I realized how important it is to become naturalized and take full advantage of my rights in this country that had become my only home.  Taking that step gave me the life-changing opportunity to be a voice for my community and to have a seat at the table where decisions impacting Californians and all Americans are made.”


Rep. Torres, who is currently in her second term in Congress, was born in Guatemala and came to the United States at the age of five.  Rep. Ros-Lehtinen also immigrated to the United States at a young age, fleeing Cuba’s Castro regime at the age of eight, and has been serving in Congress since 1989.   


“As the first Hispanic woman to be elected to serve in Congress, I am honored to launch the New Americans Caucus along with Norma to highlight the important contributions that naturalized citizens have brought to the halls of Congress and also to our great nation,” said Ros-Lehtinen.  “Becoming a U.S. citizen is a high privilege that has allowed me to serve my constituents in South Florida.  Our country was founded by immigrants and will continue to be strengthened by new Americans.”


"The New Americans Caucus brings a much needed national spotlight to the contributions of new Americans across our country,” said Sayu Bhojwani, Founder and President of the New American Leaders Project (NALP), a national, nonpartisan organization focused on bringing new Americans into the political process.  In July 2016, NALP launched a state level New American Leaders Caucus chaired by California State Senator Ricardo Lara and Maryland State Delegate Aruna Miller.  “Our democracy is stronger when everyone participates. Our experience has shown us that when new Americans feel like they have a voice and are represented, they become more involved in our democracy.”  


Despite a rise in anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric, the last election saw the number of immigrants serving in Congress approximately double.  In addition to Co-Chairs Torres and Ros-Lehtinen, the group’s members include Reps. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Albio Sires (D-NJ).