By Democratic Congressional Candidate Veronica Escobar, El Paso, TX.

I was 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.

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, multi-language 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 unique perspective.

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.

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