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New York City's immigrant congressman speaks out

He is New York City's newest congressional representative. Adriano Espaillat is a former undocumented immigrant who is living the American dream, now representing Harlem and the Bronx on Capitol Hill.

The nation's first Dominican American congressman hopes his immigrant past can help him shape immigration policy today and in the future.

National Public Radio recently reported that Espaillat is the first member of either the House of Representatives or the Senate to have immigrated to this country illegally. He came to the U.S. as a child, NPR says.

He said he is ready to fight for this nation's core values and that he is unwilling to compromise his principles. But he quickly added that he looks forward to working across the aisle with fellow members of Congress.

Espaillat says he expects immigration issues to be front and center early in the session that just started. He says he hopes his life's story will influence lawmakers who might be inclined to make brash statements about immigration to slow down and think twice. After all, a member of Congress now comes from that background.

He said he doubts that his story will change votes on Capitol Hill, but he hopes it "could change their hearts."

As readers of our Staten Island immigration law blog know, there were immigration controversies aplenty in the recent presidential election. No one yet knows where Congress will land on the many issues before it, but we do know that struggles for rights, resident status and citizenship will continue.

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