tv 116th Freshmen Profile - Reps. Garcia Torres Small CSPAN March 31, 2019 5:34pm-6:01pm EDT
talks about her latest book "the chief." about chief justice john roberts. >> however john roberts votes now that anthony kennedy is gone, he is going to determine the law of the land. the liberals want him to come over, inch over a little bit. the conservatives are trying to hold him back where he always was. meanwhile, you have this chief justice declaring there is no such thing as an obama judge, no such thing as a trump judge, bush judge. he wants to project a bench that is not political, when they all have agendas of sorts. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's "q&a." democraticakers," congressman gerald connolly of virginia talks about the mueller
report, voter security, the budget, and u.s. foreign policy. 6:00 p.m.s," today at eastern on c-span. the 116th congress has a record number of latino members, with 36 in the house and for in the senate. texas voters sent to latino women. one of them is sylvia garcia. host: you are the eighth of 10 children. how did that shape you? ms. garcia: i grew up with three older brothers. i have two little brothers, they grew up and soon they too were
beating up on me sometimes. for me it's about working together, understanding about family and sharing and working hard. we grew up on a farm. everybody had chores to do. obviously if one of the brothers sisters got hung up and didn't finish we'd chip in to finish because the sooner we all finished then we could go out and play, right? it was always for the greater good for me it's really about family and i've always put family first. it started just growing up in a nice big family. host: where did you grow up? what was your childhood like? ms. garcia: i group in south texas, a small farming community called polito blanco. not the rio grande valley but between corpus christi and laredo. you put your finger in the middle before you go to the valley, that's where i'm at. i grew up on a farm. as i said earlier, all of us had chores to do. i've done just about everything, i know how to bail hay, pick
cotton, i know how to drive a tractor. my first assignment was always fetching the eggs from the barn. we all had a chore. but what really is important is that even though we worked on the farm and had to do everything we had to do, my parents always would wake us up early enough to do that, to then get cleaned up to go down the road to catch the bus to go to school. that's what they emphasized most, going to school to make sure that we could have a better life than they did. because they knew that if we didn't do that, we'd end up working on the farms the rest of our lives. host: what was their life like and what did they do for a living? ms. garcia: they just worked the farm. my mother took care of us. my daddy was a farmer. it was my grandfather's farm so he was sort of like a farm laborer but he didn't speak any english. couldn't read or write in english or spanish. i grew up speaking spanish first he finished the third grade.
back then, as soon as someone was tall enough and strong enough to do work around a farm you got pulled out of school. that was about working the farm that was the priority. my mother finished the fifth grade. and she married my dad and they had a lot of children. so obviously my mother stayed home and worked with all of us. and after my daddy died she was forced to work. so she cleaned houses and worked at a nursing home and did what she could to hold the family together. host: where is your family from? the united states or did they migrate? ms. garcia: my parents were both from the united states. my grandparents were not. three of the four came from mexico and one from spain. host: what was a lesson you learned from your parents that you still carry with you today that you apply to what you're
doing today? ms. garcia: it's something simple. always working hard and doing your part. it was always about getting an education. and it was always about making sure you remembered where you came from and that somebody else was probably in a more serious situation so for me, i always had hand me downs. i was the baby girl. i waited my turn until i fit the dress that the other sister had. but even after i wore it, you know, it got passed down to one of my cousins. we learned recycling a long time ago. so for me it was always about making sure that we all, you know, were together as a family. and the thing that they also always emphasized, the third thing was, faith. i'm catholic, i'm a practicing catholic. they made sure we went to church, we went through all the sacraments and we remember that we just didn't get it that we
had to believe in god. that was what they would always tell us. work hard and got an education and believed in god, then we would be rewarded. and obviously it worked. host: what did you do, how did you get to college and what did you do after? ms. garcia: i was fortunate that i was a good student. so i was able to get on a grant program that was provided for in texas. if you were in high academic achievement from a poverty area they would waive tuition and fees. so i actually went to my first year without having to pay tuition and fees. i went to texas women's university which is outside of dallas. so i did have to get a dorm, but one of my uncles co-signed a note with my daddy to make sure i could be able to do that, to make sure i would be able to go
to college. host: what did you major in and what did you do with the degree? ms. garcia: i majored in government and social work. i have degrees in social work and government. i feel like i became a social worker and still am. after that i decided i wanted to be a legal aid lawyer. went to law school. and the rest is just evolved. so i've been a social worker, a legal aid lawyer, i've been a judge and i've been elected to city government, county government, state government. host: how did you decide to run for this u.s. house seat? ms. garcia: i had done it before. i had run, the first year of the woman in 1992. they created the seat which was supposed to be an opportunity seat for a latino in houston. and i ran in that race, came out
third. but i never gave up. i went on to run for city controller, city government, county commissioner in county government, state senator in state government and just kept working. then when gene green who was in this position decided to retire, it just sort of -- i just kind of -- whoa, i can finally do it, it's open. so i decided to run and was successful in the primary and the general election. host: how do you view politics and how is it viewed in your family? ms. garcia: for us it's all about making change, making a difference for families, for working families, to make sure people get a fair shot at the american dream. that kids can have a good education. to reach their full potential. that we can take care of people when they're sick. i still have memories of waiting in line at the welfare clinic to get a shot. we don't want kids to have to do that.
so for us it's always been about making sure we take care of others. and i think that is something that came from my parents. even if as i said earlier, even if i had worn the hand-me-down and i was the last in the family, you give to it somebody else. we never threw anything away, we passed it on. host: is that why you said you still think of yourself as a social worker? ms. garcia: absolutely. i think a lot of the work we do, what matters to families, to working families across the country, is making sure that they can keep their families together. nothing does that better than good jobs, good health care, good education. and that's still to me social work. it's still about making social changes. it's about making a difference. you know, i like to say sometimes that social workers dream that they can make good, you know, and anything in the world that we'll bring it all together it'll be fine. i still believe that i think we can make a better world.
host: farmers are used to working hard and long days. ms. garcia: i still get up early every morning no matter what. i never learned to sleep late. host: would you say you put in farm hours? ms. garcia: i often get up at 5:00 in the morning to read notes, to pe pair for meetings, i'm up anyway. it's hard for me to sleep late. but i'm a good napper. host: how would you describe your work style or work ethic? ms. garcia: it's usually nonstop. for me the only thing that's different from previous positions, it's not the hours but the intensity. for me, in the state senate there were periods where we were like really, really busy. here it's that way every single day. but the hours are the same.
the weather is different. but other than that it's just, you know, again, just working to make things better for working families. host: anything that surprised you about washington? ms. garcia: not really. it's just another tool if you will, for me, in trying to make a difference. if there's anything surprise, it's just the change of weather. it seems to be so fickle. you know. it can be snowing one day and raining the next, sleet the next and it's really wreaking havoc on my allergies but other than that it's just been very interesting experience so far. but i'm loving it. i'm loving it. host: another new latina face is xochitl torres small, representing new mexico's second district that represents the southern half of the state.
congresswoman, where were you born? ms. torres small: there were complications with my birth so i was born in portland, oregon, while my mother was visiting her parents. my grandfather was a methodist minister, he's traveled around a lot. so they happened to be in portland, oregon, that's where i was born but as soon as i was old enough to fly back my -- we flew back to where my parents lived in las cruces, new mexico. host: what were the complications? ms. torres small: my mother had a blood defect and so they were concerns with the white blood platelet count issue. there were concerns about that and the hospital in las cruces wasn't adequately equipped to deal with that complication. so she had a few options and she decided to be with her parents. host: what was your childhood like? ms. torres small: it was wonderful. i grew up in las cruces, it's
the largest city in the district, at the time it was about 70,000 people. it was a tight knit town my mom was a teacher. my dad was a social worker my grandfather was a police sergeant. so the police where everyone knew my family or knew me. so such a close knit community you learn to work with everyone because you know you'll run into them again. host: were your parents involved in politics? ms. torres small: they cared about their civic duty to vote they cared about their community but they had never run for office or been involved in that way. host: when did you become involved or interested in politics? ms. torres small: i was interested because in part my parents, we had discussions at home. we -- my dad always said, if you want something you've got to learn how to talk about it. how to ask for it. so we would always, when we had differences of opinions at the dinner table, we were always talking about things. one of the points of pride for
my dad was when i became an attorney. that was first lawyer in the family. it was something he had always wanted to do. so i have a family that really cares about our community, cares about our homes, and that's what got me excited about politics. host: how would you describe your political philosophy? and did your parents shape that or who shaped that? ms. torres small: for me it's a lot more about a philosophy for my home. i grew up in a place that's sometimes seen as a forgotten part of a flyover state, yet i'm so proud of how we have a history and a way of working together. so when there are problems in las cruces or in southern new mexico, people come together from industry, from the nonprofit world from schools, from anything to find a solution. i'm so proud of that i think that's something that isn't happening in d.c. so part of what made me want to
get involved first work for senator udall, then working on water issues, which is one of the most contentious challenges in the west, to now serving in congress, is how do we bring that same ethic of being willing to work with everyone to a place that's having a real challenge doing that right now. host: would you describe the people where you're from as moderate? people who are more in the middle and therefore is that how you were shaped? ms. torres small: one thing i love about my district is it's incredibly diverse. we have the gila wilderness, the nation's first wilderness in the west. we have the hottest oil and gas play in the southeastern corn over the state. we have almost 180 miles of u.s.-mexico border and we have places that are right next to albuquerque which is the largest city in the district. it's incredibly diverse and the viewpoints are diverse. but what i would say is that my district has an independence
streak a mile wide. they pride themselves in supporting people who will think for themselves, who will think for their community, over toing any party line. that's what i seek to do, make sure that every vote i take, everything i work on is about how to best serve the people i represent. host: what impact did working for senator udall have on you? ms. torres small: i got to come back -- i went away for college and chose to come back home. to come back and work with as a field representative was a great way to get to know the community, to learn from a different perspective. one thing i appreciated about senator udall, he told me i needed to reach out to everyone. i didn't just need to check in with people who voted for him or check in with democrat. he said go into every community and find the people who are already doing the work and find ways to support them. and that's a great model for how to best serve constituents. host: when did you decide that
you, yourself would want to run for office? ms. torres small: it was not something i was planning. when this position became open i was excited about what that could mean. growing up here i know how important it is to have people fighting to make it a place that you don't have to choose between the home you love and your best opportunities. so i was looking for someone to be that representative. honestly i was thinking of other people, who i could call and there was a moment while i was writing that list that i realized that maybe it was my job. maybe i had to step up and do this work. host: what were you doing at the time? host: what were you doing at the time? ms. torres small: i was writing a list. host: what was your job at the time? ms. torres small: i was an attorney, i was working mostly on water law.
i knew that that would define our future in the west. it's also a great way to solve problems. it's a shared resource, a finite resource, so finding ways to get different users, farmers, the municipalities, getting everyone in a room and finding out ways we can work together. host: growing up do you remember a lot of water discussions? has this always been an issue for your home? ms. torres small: growing up in the desert you are born knowing that water is scarce and you're born knowing that water matters. for your future. and i -- growing up i lived by the ditch banks which collect, distribute the water for our farms in the area. i would run along the ditch banks every week and so you see when it's dry. you see when the ditch banks are dry, when you see -- you see when the river, the rio grande, which is dry a large part of the year. host: what about your family today, for you, how does politics factor into your family?
ms. torres small: it's interesting today because we -- so much of work is politics and so we have to be very in control of having time to see how their day went, what challenges we're facing and making sure we're connecting on that level too. it's fun to talk about, i love when there's disagreements at the dinner table because i always learn something from it. i think we're always pushing each other and challenging each other to think deeper and to make sure we're always listening. host: tell viewers about your family. ms. torres small: my husband is a state representive in new mexico. he represents a part of the area that i also represent he represents hatch, which is where the best green chilis are grown. he understands agriculture, is working hard to make sure we invest in soil health my dad is president of the local a.s.t., a
union for teachers and other school employees. and it's an -- he's an educator and he's a school bus driver now. so he is always working hard to protect educators, to protect children, and to make sure that we have a great community. my mom just retired as a teacher. so they care deeply about our future and children in the community. host: did you have any political mentors and what did they tell you? what do you remember about the messages that they told you through the years? ms. torres small: two mentors they have learned a great deal from are senator udall, who really taught me that service is about working with everyone, about making sure that every is at the table.
making sure that you're listening more than you're talking. and making sure that you're always focused on finding solutions. the other, i had the chance to clerk for robert brack, a federal district court judge. he's one of the busiest criminal dockets in the country because a lot of the illegal entry and re-entry cases come through that border district. and every single case that he presided over he made sure that that person had dignity and justice. that he listened to the case. and that he presided with fairness. in be able to do justice but to also show and love mercy is -- is a powerful thing that we all should seek to do more. host: given how you grew up, where you grew up, your work with senator udall, your work with this judge, what do you think is the biggest misunderstanding people have about the border? ms. torres small: the biggest misunderstanding that people have is that there is one border.
it is a long, complex place. and i know that a border is strongest when it's also vibrant. i know that we have to have a rich, robust border economy. i got my braces in mexico. i know how important it is that we are engage and interacting together. i also know we need border security. i know that we have to make sure we are keeping our communities safe. we are keeping our agents safe. and that we have border security that reflect ours values. so that means we have to look at every mile of the border. and identify how to do those things. any time someone is saying the boarder is this, is usually misunderstanding a much more complex picture. host: congresswoman, thank you. ms. torres small: thank you. >> new congress, new leaders, follow it all on c-span. >> here's a look at the schedule ahead on c-span. next,"newsmakers," with
democratic congressman gerald connolly of virginia as he talks about the molar support, border security, and foreign policy. oral that, supreme court argument. a case about north carolina congressional district gerrymandering. at 8:00 p.m., "q&a." chief"the author of "the a book about chief justice john roberts. tonight, on "afterwards." advisor at george papadopoulos details his role in the 2016 presidential campaign in his book deep state target. how i got caught in the crosshairs of the plot to bring down president trump. he is interviewed by justice department reporter. actively trying to leverage what i thought were these connections to russia. in theved it was
interest of the campaign for canada trump to meet with vladimir putin. >> you believed it was a for policy -- foreign policy of objective. he hadhe time i joined, been saying for months the need to work with russia on a geopolitical level, economic level. >> get to know the freshman members of the 116th congress monday on "washington journal." learn more about the most diverse group of lawmakers in history. >> i'm authentic. small town lawyer from lexington. >> i served in afghanistan. >> i am a mcdonald's franchisee for 22 years. >> i had a fascination with this idea of finding answers to questions nobody else could find.
dad is a lifelong republican who has never voted for democrat, he voted for me. "washington journal" at 7:00 a.m. monday morning. join the discussion. simply threeas giant networks and a government supported service called pbs. in 1979, a small network with an unusual name rolled out a big idea. let viewers decide on their own what was important to them. c-span open the doors to washington policymaking for all to see. bring unfiltered content from congress and beyond. in the age of the landscape has clearly changed. there is no monolithic media. youtube stars are a thing. c-span's big idea is more relevant today than ever. no government money supports it.
nonpartisan coverage. television and online, c-span is your unfiltered view of government so you can make up your own mind. congressman jerry connolly is our guest. county in the washington metro area. the foreigner of affairs committee and also oversight and government reform on government operations. we have two reporters to cover congress that will be asking you questions. well, congressman, thank you for joining us. you are on the oversight committee. no longer government oversight reform. the