Tuesday, July 04, 2017

There Can Only Be One "Best Freshman In Congress"-- And Pramila Jayapal Is It


Over the years Blue America has been gratified to have helped elect some truly amazing men and women to Congress, men and women who have proved to be leaders for the values we embrace-- from Donna Edwards and Jamie Raskin in Maryland to Alan Grayson (FL), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Keith Ellison (MN), Russ Feingold (WI), Judy Chu (CA), Raul Grijalva, Barbara Lee (CA), etc. There have been a few times we've been taken in and horrified at the results-- deceitful Pennsylvania Blue Dog Chris Carney stands out as the worst. But more frequently, we are surprised not because someone failed to live up to their promises, like Carney, but because new members have gone above and beyond the excellence we expected. Ted Lieu (CA), a leader in legislation and in political strategy and in Resistance to tyranny, has been a perfect example over the past several years. And now there's someone else working along the same track, Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

We saw the signs of leadership, powerfully, when she was in her state legislature and we suspected she would be just as accomplished and principled if she got to Washington. BINGO! She's turned out to be even more wonderful than we had any right to hope. This is the ProgressivePunch Top Ten right at this moment:

You will probably noticed that only one member of Congress has a perfect 100% vote score right across all categories. Pramila has become a model by which other members can be measured. And it isn't just in how she votes. Today, on Independence Day, the NY Times chose her to pen an OpEd for the paper of record-- The Country I Love:
Seventeen years ago, I celebrated my first Independence Day as a United States citizen. I couldn’t have predicated then that I would one day have the enormous privilege of being the first Indian-American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives, and one of only six members of Congress who are naturalized citizens.

After arriving here from India at age 16, I spent more than a dozen years on an alphabet soup of visas-- F1, H1B and more-- before I finally got my green card through marriage to an American. Some years later, I was awarded a fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs, which allowed me to spend two years living in my birth country. I just had to come back to the United States once a year to keep my permanent resident status current. When I became pregnant during the second year of the program, my husband and I planned to return to the United States in time for my last trimester, so I could deliver the baby at home, and then return to India.

That plan did not work out. Just two weeks before we were scheduled to board our flight back to the United States, I developed a leak in my amniotic sac. My son was born prematurely at 26.5 weeks, weighing less than two pounds. I was now faced with a choice. In order to preserve my permanent resident status, I needed to return to the United States within weeks of his birth. But he was so tiny and in such critical condition that he could not fly, and I refused to leave his bedside knowing he might die.

So I stayed in India. I lost my green card status and only through the help and hard work of the institute was I able to regain my permanent residence status and return to the United States three months later when my son was finally able to fly.

I became determined to get my citizenship as soon as I was eligible so that I would never again face the prospect of being separated from my son, who was a United States citizen by virtue of being the child of a United States citizen father. Part of the agreement that had allowed me to return to the United States again and regain my permanent residence status was that I would have to start from zero to qualify for citizenship again. That process took three years.

When I finally walked into the cavernous hall at the old location of Immigration and Naturalization Services (now called United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) south of downtown Seattle, I was prepared for a simple transaction that would finally grant me citizenship and ensure that I would always be with my son. I did not anticipate the emotion that would come with the moment, or the way it would shape my future, and my understanding of this country.

There were hundreds of others at the ceremony from all over the world, and I could hear languages from every continent spoken. We all carried small American flags. Grandparents held children; moms and dads held hands. As we took the oath of citizenship, the solemnity of the moment spiked through me. Tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks as I took in the mixed emotions of renouncing any allegiance to my birth country of India where I had been a citizen for 35 years and embracing my new country.

America, a country that had embraced me as a 16-year-old who had come here by myself to study and build a life of better opportunity.

America, a country built on the idea of being a refuge for those in need, “the tired masses, yearning to breathe free.”

America, a country that has always celebrated itself as a nation of immigrants.

In that moment, as I took my oath, I realized how lucky I was. I knew that my future had opened up, and that citizenship would offer me the chance to seek opportunity and to take part in our democracy. I knew, too, that with those freedoms and opportunity came enormous responsibility: to do everything I could to preserve and build our democracy, to vote, and to use my life to pay it forward and ensure opportunity for others.

I became an immigrant, civil and human rights advocate, then the first South Asian elected to the Washington State Legislature and the only woman of color in the Washington State Senate, and then was elected in 2016 to the United States Congress.

These are difficult times for immigrants and for Americans across our country. President Trump has harnessed the fear and prejudice that have accompanied every wave of immigrants in United States history, and stoked those fears to further his own agenda.

Restricting immigration from Muslim-majority countries, and cracking down on unauthorized immigration in a way that tears families apart and creates an atmosphere of fear, cuts at the very fabric of what really does make America great: the diversity that is our greatest strength.

This Fourth of July, as I remember my own naturalization ceremony and give thanks for the honor of being a United States citizen and a member of Congress, I call on the president and my fellow Americans to remember our history. What makes America great is our commitment to our values of inclusivity and opportunity for all. Immigration is about more than just who comes here and who is allowed to stay. It is about who we are as a country and what we are willing to stand up for.
Goal Thermometer So far this cycle Blue America has been fundraising like mad for challengers to conservative incumbents of the House. And that will continue to be out focus. But its important for us to remember that we have an ActBlue fundraising page for the best congressional incumbents as well, members like Pramila and Ted Lieu and the others who have stood out and acted selflessly for the country and for their constituents in a DC environment that neither rewards nor encourages that kind of m.o. On the right is a Blue Anerica thermometer dedicated only to the crème de la crème of the U.S. House of Representatives. If you tap the thermometer you'll see the short list and, of course, you'll have the opportunity to contribute to any of their reelection campaigns. These aren't men and women who get big corporate contributions. They're men and women who depend on grassroots donors who appreciate what they do in Congress.

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At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shame that she is .5% of the irrelevant democrap contingent and is subject to the oppression of the rich enforced by Pelosi/hoyer in her own party.

Can Blue America elect 220 more like her, and 61 like her in the senate, IN SPITE of the billions in corporate/billionaire money spent to defeat them all by the DNC, DCCC and DSCC?


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