LOS ANGELES — In the neighborhood where Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) grew up, undocumented immigrants have long occupied the aging bungalows and faded campers that jam up against roaring freeways.
“Ilegales,” his father, Santos Padilla, now 80 and a naturalized U.S. citizen, said with a sweep of his hand following Mass one recent Sunday when asked how he and his late wife arrived in the United States. “Like everyone.”
Alex Padilla became the state’s first Latino senator in January when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed him to fill Vice President Harris’s seat, and he took over the immigration subcommittee. But he and others have twice failed to convince the Senate parliamentarian thatcitizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States should be included in a budget bill that Democrats hope to pass this year as part of a massive spending package.
In an interview this month in Pacoima, his old neighborhood in Los Angeles, Padilla said he is “not giving up” on citizenship, even as he and other Democrats are planning to return to the parliamentarian with a “Plan C.” He said one option under this plan is to give millions of undocumented immigrants work permits instead of a path to citizenship, but that is not the only possibility. “There are still better options on the table,” Padilla said, though he would not elaborate.
“I don’t give up that easy,” he said standing beside his father outside Mary Immaculate Church, blocks from where his family settled in the 1960s.