“I’m running for Congress because every kid – and every family – deserves a real shot at opportunity. Congress should be an institution that actually helps people and improves Americans’ lives.
I would know. An act of Congress made all the difference in my life.
My mom brought me to America not knowing English, without an education, and without the right immigration status. We came here on a temporary visa and stayed past its expiration date.
But thanks to a progressive change in immigration law passed by Congress in the 1980s, we were able to apply for permanent legal residency. I became a U.S. citizen at 21. It was the happiest day of my life.
Other programs also helped my family succeed. At times, my mom was able to supplement her income through government housing vouchers and Medicaid. I attended a public 4-year college and became a teacher. I was able to marry my partner because the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.
I owe everything to this country because America afforded me the opportunity to succeed.
I know my story isn’t typical for many who grew up like me. But it should be.
Every young adult should be able to attend a tuition-free college or a skilled trade program. Every undocumented kid and their family should have the ability to earn their citizenship. Every worker should have the opportunity to pursue a meaningful career. Every American should have healthcare and a roof over their head.
There’s no getting around it – America has big, persistent and structural problems that Congress must address: Generational cycles of poverty and the consolidation of wealth and legal power into the hands of a powerful few must end. A minority of extremists with near-complete control of the Republican Party are attacking elections and our democracy. Systemic racism is steeped in our institutions.
As mayor of Long Beach, I have seen firsthand how people coming from different walks of life can build coalitions to enact meaningful change – even in the face of entrenched and ideological opposition.
There’s no reason why the same can’t happen in Congress. Here’s where I’ll start:
Preparing for Future Pandemics and Emergencies: Long Beach was hailed as a national model by President Biden during the covid pandemic. We were the first city in California to vaccinate 99% of seniors and our teachers. I made sure we focused on the science and led efforts to ensure low income communities had access to tests and vaccines. But the world should not have been in this position in the first place. America must be the world’s leader in pandemic prevention and biosafety and biosecurity planning. We need more funding for pandemic prevention, preparation and response — as well as strong regulations to ensure research is done safely. Dangerous pathogen research – especially dual use research – must be properly regulated in order to ensure technological advances don’t become weapons for nefarious actors.
Defend our Democracy: The most important issue facing Congress today is to defend our democracy against attacks from the extreme far-right. I support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.
Real Opportunity for Everyone – Not Just the Wealthy: In 2016, I proposed raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, ahead of our state. During the pandemic, Long Beach also became the first city in California to provide an extra $4 an hour of Hero Pay to grocery workers. We faced fierce resistance from big corporations and stood our ground, winning relief for frontline workers. That’s why I’ll fight for a nationwide $15 minimum wage, reform overtime rules, public banks, expand paid family leave, and boost programs that help working families like the earned income tax credit.
Strengthening the Social Safety Net: In 2021 we also passed a guaranteed income pilot program, providing 500 single parents living in poverty and struggling to meet basic needs with $500 a month. In Congress, I will fight to protect and expand eligibility and benefits for Medicaid, Social Security and Medicare. Every parent should be able to afford child care, and I believe every parent should be able to send their kids to a quality pre-k provider. I’ll fight for universal child care and pre-k in Congress.
Defending Immigrant Families & Fighting for More Paths to Citizenship. I worked to establish the Justice Fund in Long Beach to provide legal support for families facing deportation. Long Beach also became a Sanctuary City under our leadership and has provided sanctuary protections for undocumented residents. In Congress, I will fight hard to expand pathways to citizenship for undocumented residents and fight to end legal discrimination against undocumented residents.
Medicare for All: I believe the best approach to fixing our healthcare system is passing Medicare for All. I am a longtime supporter of Medicare for All and serve as the co-chair of Mayors 4 Medicare. I pushed for the City of Long Beach to be on the record supporting Medicare for All. Healthcare is a human right and your coverage shouldn’t depend on your employment.
Protect Our Civil Rights: I’ve worked to adopt progressive policies that address racism within government and our institutions. We launched an office of equity, have worked to diversify our leadership and commissions, and have integrated programs like My Brothers Keeper across the city. I strongly support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I will fight to modernize and expand our anti-discrimination laws.
Ending the Gun Violence Epidemic: Congress must take action to save lives with responsible gun safety legislation. I will work to implement universal background checks and a ban on AR-15 assault weapons. We must also raise the national age requirement to own a firearm to 21 and create a strong national licensing program. Communities and schools must also receive federal support for expanded mental health programs and violence diversion programs.
Create New Jobs While Transitioning Away From Fossil Fuels: I strongly support the Green New Deal. During my time as mayor, Long Beach has worked locally to invest in green jobs and lower emissions drastically, ahead of state standards. We have lauded a citywide youth climate corps, electrified our buses and fleet, and expanded multimodal bike and transit. I have also signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge.
Cancel Student Debt & Make College Cost Free: In Long Beach, we launched the Long Beach College Promise giving thousands of students two years of free tuition at Long Beach Community College. In Congress, I will fight to cancel student debt across America and fight for no-cost college for all our students.
Housing is a Human Right: We must expand affordable and accessible housing across the United States and work to build quality public housing. We need to ensure that people who are unhoused have access to shelter, services, and permanent supportive housing. Congress has an opportunity to fund significant housing development across American cities, especially along public transit and urban job centers.
Help Small Business Recover & Thrive: At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Long Beach passed a historic economic relief package that ensured workers had access to paid sick time, retention laws, and small business had access to loans and grants. As we exit the pandemic, I’ll fight to ensure small businesses can thrive.
Strengthen Federal Protections for LGBTQ+ Americans: As mayor, I helped strengthen protections for the LGBTQ+ community by establishing trans-inclusive health care coverage in the city, increased access to STD checks and treatments, and facilitated a more welcoming community citywide. Long Beach has received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign for inclusive cities every year I served as Mayor. I’ll fight for those same rights in Congress.
Make it Easier to Form a Union: Throughout our history, union jobs have been escalators to the middle-class. I’ll fight for changes that level the playing field between employees and employers and make it easier to join and form a union. I’ve always supported the rights of workers to organize and I’ll fight to adopt the Pro Act in Congress.
End Citizens United: I strongly believe in ending Citizens United. I am refusing corporate PAC checks in my campaign.”
– Robert Garcia