WASHINGTON — Ruben Kihuen is humbled and honored to be in the U.S. House of Representatives, but politics and governing were not his first priorities when he was growing up as an athlete.
“My first goal, my first dream was to play professional soccer, not to be in the halls of Congress,” Kihuen said from a couch in his spartan Cannon House Building office on Capitol Hill.
His dream was to play professional soccer in Mexico, a goal dashed by a broken foot.
Now, following a fast political rise as an aide to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and a stint in the Nevada Senate, Kihuen wants to use his seat in Congress to reform the country’s immigration laws, stop efforts to privatize Social Security and Medicare and raise the minimum wage.
“The most important thing a representative can do is give a voice to his constituents,” Kihuen told the Review-Journal.
Kihuen, a Democrat, will represent Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Las Vegas and central portions of the state. Roughly 30 percent of the population in the district is Latino, and about 7 percent is Asian, according to recent Census Bureau figures.
Congress has struggled with immigration reform, failing several times in recent years to pass laws that would streamline an archaic system that politicians on both sides of the aisle decrying it. Both sides disagree, however, on the approach and legalization.
President-elect Donald Trump made the issue a central plank in his campaign, calling for a border wall between the United States and Mexico and promising to step up deportation of the projected 11 million people here illegally.
Kihuen, who was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was 8, said that for a time, he was living in the U.S. on an expired visa. He is now a naturalized citizen.
By GARY MARTIN for REVIEW-JOURNAL
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