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As the discussion on the border moves towards the conservative end, Senator Alex Padilla stands out as a consistent advocate for immigrants

Alex Padilla (Via Barry Grint)

“Is it true?” Biden asked Senator Alex Padilla, referring to the approximately 25% of U.S. students from kindergarten to high school who are Latino. Padilla recounted this question from the president while they waited together in a back room at a library in Culver City, California, before an event in February.

This was the kind of conversation Padilla aimed to have with the Democratic president. Biden was considering his reelection campaign, executive actions on immigration, and how to address a southern border seeing record numbers of illegal crossings during his presidency.

Padilla wanted to ensure Biden recognized the potential of the country’s immigrants. “Mr. President, do you know what I call those students?” Padilla remembered asking. “They’re the workforce of tomorrow.”

Sen. Alex Padilla speaks in a hearing (Via Alex Castle/Getty Images)

This was just one instance where Padilla, now 52 and California’s senior senator, has made his mark—whether in face-to-face talks with the president, regular calls with top White House staff, or through outspoken criticism—shaping the Democratic Party’s stance on immigration.

The son of Mexican immigrants and the first Latino to represent California in the Senate, Padilla has become a persistent advocate at a time when Democrats are increasingly focused on border security and uncertain about their approach to immigrants.

Illegal immigration is viewed as a mounting political challenge for Democrats, as authorities at the border and in cities nationwide grapple with recent surges.

The party may also be losing support among Hispanic voters due to dissatisfaction with Biden. However, Padilla, in interviews with The Associated Press, expressed optimism about the Democratic Party’s ability to gain and maintain support from immigrant communities.

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