Blanca Rubio had to go the distance to get where she is now—all the way from Juarez, Mexico. Rubio first ran for office in 1997, elected to the Valley Country Water District and a member for two full terms. Since then, she’s been a classroom teacher, school board president, and a passionate advocate for ESL students. In 2016, she was elected to the California State Assembly, representing the 48th district. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, she is the first immigrant to represent the heavily Latino area in recent memory.
I was born in Mexico; my family came up to the United States when I was eight. We’d been here once before, earlier than that; we’d come to Texas and we were deported. That first time, we’d moved because my dad was in construction. He was a bracero at the time; he was building a bridge in Port Arthur, Texas. We didn’t speak the language at all. When we were in school, they didn’t know what to do with us. I remember we were the only non-white kids in the area. All the teachers just put us in the corner to color, but young minds learn quickly. I was picking up English, but not at a very high level. When I would try to participate in the class, the teacher would just move me back to the corner. I guess she decided I couldn’t keep up or she wanted to keep me occupied. During that time, my dad was working, and he didn’t have the proper documentation to work. He was caught, and we were deported. I was probably around six or seven. I had no idea what was going on. I just remember my dad saying, “Let’s pack up our things. We’re leaving.” We moved back around two years later.
We’re from Juarez, Mexico, which is one of the most dangerous cities at least in Mexico, if not the world. My parents were adamant about us not growing up there. When I was eight, they tried again. We moved to California, still undocumented. My younger sister, though, had been born in El Paso, Texas, and so we were able to get our documents through her, even though she was only four at the time. Through the process, we eventually became documented. If this had happened now, we wouldn’t be able to become citizens because the laws have changed and a four-year-old couldn’t sponsor a family. Thank god at the time they didn’t have those requirements. We came in 1977. We finally got our documents in 1983.
With both my parents working, just trying to make it, trying to survive, they really didn’t understand a lot of what we were learning or going through at school. But they did tell me and my brother and sisters over and over, “Keep going to school. You better not miss