We Spoke With Ammar Campa-Najjar, The First Latino-Arab Running For Congress
Ammar Camp-Najjar made headlines when he first announced his candidacy for California’s 50th Congressional district representing San Diego. The young politician garnered lots of attention for his looks and the collective thirst he inspired on social media helped raise his profile. While the Internet was busy swooning, Campa-Najjar was starting his work into flipping the California’s 50th Congressional District. As the son of an immigrant father, Campa-Najjar says he understands the need for a more efficient and modernized immigration system.
Campa-Najjar, the first Latino-Arab to run for Congress, spoke with mitú about the importance of changing our immigration system, his family’s immigration experience, and how he plans on getting people to show up and vote.
Ammar Campa-Najjar is running for California’s 50th Congressional district, which has been a Republican stronghold for more than a decade.
Campa-Najjar is hoping to flip California’s 50th Congressional district to represent people in San Diego who he thinks have been let down by multiple Congressmen, including incumbent Duncan Hunter Jr. Hunter Jr. has been accused of misspending tens of thousands of dollars of campaign funds to pay for family vacations.
And one of his biggest influences for running for Congress comes from his own family: his grandmother.
“My grandmother and my grandfather were immigrants [from Mexico]. They came here legally back when it was a little easier. My grandmother is from Guadalajara. My grandfather was an orphan farm worker. They came from humble beginnings and they were just hard working, middle-class people,” Campa-Najjar told mitú.
“I think what my grandparents had and my mother had was the ability to contribute fully and fairly to America’s economy and way of life,” Campa-Najjar told mitú.
Campa-Najjar told mitú that he understands the importance of making sure that people can come into the country more efficiently and immediately bringing them into the fold. He believes getting people working and integrated will help the economy and improve many lives.
Campa-Najjar says that the best way to fix our immigration issue is to modernize the process.Ammar Campa / Facebook
“If we could modernize our immigration process, people will be able to opt to come here in the more legal fashion because it is a viable path. They wouldn’t be waiting a decade or two to come into this country legally,” Campa-Najjar told mitú. He added: “There are people who are trying to come into this country who are fleeing persecution or fleeing oppression or fleeing violence and they can’t wait for 20 years for their children to come to this country to have the American dream. So I would focus on modernizing our immigration process.”
Campa-Najjar told mitú that he has the experience in Washington D.C. and that he has proven he can lead from the Capitol.
#FlashBackFriday to that time when 'a skinny kid with a funny name' changed my life forever and said: "I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible" — Barack Hussein Obama, 2004 DNC Convention. #ThanksObama
“I am the only person in this race who has been to Washington, who has worked in Washington, who has proven that I will not lose my way,” Campa-Najjar told mitú. “If you look at this district, they’ve had a history of terrible Congressmen on both sides.”
Once again, a lesson from his own family is what encouraged him to work as hard as he can in whatever he does.
“My mom taught me that your work ethic reveals who you are as a person and I’ll contrast the values instilled in me by this district to the values that Duncan Hunter has lost and the code of conduct he has violated, not just as a Congressman but as a former military member,” Campa-Najjar told mitú.
And since he is running for Congress, he wants people to see him as a politician, not an Internet heartthrob.
“I’ll be honest. It’s a very minuscule version of what women go through all of the time trying to be taken seriously. I’m not running to be a social media candidate, I’m running and spending every waking moment at people’s homes,” Campa-Najjar told mitú. “This election is not about the newsroom. It’s about people’s dining rooms and living rooms. It’s about what keeps them up at night and wakes them up in the morning and I honestly see it as a disservice to that struggle when people objectify me. I try not to take it personally but it really derails the hopes and dreams of a lot of people.”
He plans on getting young people ready to vote by getting them pre-registered to vote.
Campa-Najjar is working to get young people to vote through an initiative he called “18 By 2018.” He is actively getting 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds pre-registered to vote so that they are able to go straight to the polls once they turn 18. Camap-Najjar knows many young Latinos become eligible to vote every day. He wants to tap into the younger population, who he believes will be bear the brunt of decisions made by politicians.
Campa-Najjar told mitú he is running on ideology, not party, to help his district and his neighborhood.
Official government portrait ?? Only in America can the son of a woman from the barrio and a man from an occupied territory have the freedom to reimagine his life and pursue his dreams. It's impossible to explain how surreal it is to spend the first part of your life with your family under siege for years, almost every night, by helicopters and F-16s that leveled entire neighboring buildings on your bloc with missiles that had the words "Made in America" written on them, and then spend the second part of your life working within the United States Government, entrusted with serving the American public, getting referred to as sir by Secret Service agents every morning and being protected as a man by the same things that could've killed you as a boy. It's not the perfect love story, but I know what I've witnessed in my life is nothing short of an American miracle. Not a single day goes by where I don't hear from a family member who is still shocked that someone with my background has been called to serve in this place; it flies in the face of everything so many in the Arab world think they know about America. This anecdotal story gives them the audacity of hope. So even in our darkest hours as a nation, and there have been many recently, these experiences give me faith that there's nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right with America. I love this country.
As the son of immigrants, Campa-Najjar told mitú he wants to represent California’s 50th district to give all immigrants the same dream and opportunity his family had. It isn’t about sticking to a party line. It is about helping those who want to come to America to contribute.
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