LOS ANGELES - They are the first and so far, only sisters to serve in Congress simultaneously. The pair of powerful Southern California Latina sisters, Loretta and Linda Sanchez, give all the credit to their Mexican immigrant parents.
"I’m very proud of my parents, they're the only parents in the history of the United States to send two women, two daughters to the United States Congress," says Loretta.
Linda adds, "If you would have asked them when they first came to this country if they would have ever dreamed that they would meet the President of United States or see their daughters serve in Congress, I don't think they would have ever believed it."
The Sanchez family lived in a modest home in Anaheim. Mom and dad made sure their seven children made it through college.
Linda says, "I think my parents were pretty extraordinary in one sense, but they're pretty typical of the immigrant experience in whatever immigrant group you’re talking about because failure was not an option for them."
Loretta was the first to be elected to Congress. She served as a Democrat in the U.S House of Representatives from 1997 to 2017, representing both the 46th and 47th Congressional Districts.
"When I arrived here, there weren’t that many women in Congress, there weren’t that many Latinos in Congress, and of course it was very difficult, every day, being a woman, a Latina, a Democrat in Orange County and young is an anomaly for Congress itself," says Loretta.
After working on her sister’s campaign, Linda decided she also wanted a career in politics. Linda is currently a U.S. Representative for the 38th Congregational District. She’s been serving since 2003.
She says, "When I landed here six years after Loretta, Women were just 14% of the elected representatives at the federal level and as Loretta has said, things have gotten better. Women make up just over 50% of the population, we're almost 30% now of the elected representatives, so our numbers have doubled, but that's taken 20 years."
Both say their mission has always been to fight for the working class. It’s something their father Ignacio, a machinist at a rubber factory would instill in both of his daughters.
"He was really proud, he understood the meaning of having real decision-makers, and he would tell us all the time, you have to fight for the rights of people," says Loretta.
It’s a subject the sisters write about in their book Dream in Color, an inspirational memoir on their successful journey.
Loretta says, "I always tell people, ‘Don’t let other people tell you what you can and can not do.’ I can’t tell you how many times, especially women, get told, ‘Oh you can't do that, you can't do that.’ Who’s to say I can’t do it?"
In this segment of Hispanic Heritage pride, the Sanchez sisters want to remind Latino communities of their incredible power.
Linda says, "We bring color to it, we bring vibrancy to it. We add and enrich what exists here. So we contribute, whether that's, you know our music, our architecture our food, our culture or religion. It all adds to the beauty of this country."
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