Politics

An Immigrant’s Path to Congress: Ruben Kihuen’s First Year in Photos

Roll Call looks at the Nevada Democrat’s journey from the campaign trail to D.C.

OCT. 19, 2016: Ruben Kihuen, then a Democratic candidate for Nevada’s 4th District, shakes hands with demonstrators in front of the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas during the Culinary Union’s Wall of Taco Trucks protest — the day of the final presidential debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Every two years, a new crop of freshmen descends on Washington and every two years, Roll Call follows one such member through their first year. 

For the 2016 election, Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen was one of only several Democrats to unseat a House Republican. His story is similar to those of millions of Americans — his family came to the U.S. seeking a better life — but on Nov. 8, 2016, he became the first formerly undocumented person to be elected to Congress (along with New York Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who was elected the same day). Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Kihuen’s dreams of playing professional soccer were dashed by an untimely injury. It was then that he turned his attention to politics. 

Here’s his first year, in photos:

UNITED STATES - JULY 26: Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., center, standing next to Congressional candidate Ruben Kihuen, speaks for the Nevada delegation during the roll call vote for the nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
JULY 26, 2016: Nevada Rep. Dina Titus, center, standing next to Kihuen, speaks for the Silver State delegation during the roll call vote for the nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 7: Ruben Kihuen, Democratic candidate for Nevada’s 4th Congressional district, arrives to speak during a canvassing kickoff rally with Catherine Cortez Masto, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Nevada, at the influential Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Las Vegas on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. The mostly hispanic labor union is a powerhouse in Democratic politics in the Nevada. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
NOV. 7, 2016: Kihuen arrives to speak during a canvassing kickoff rally with Nevada Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto at the influential Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Las Vegas. The mostly Hispanic labor union is a powerhouse in Democratic politics in Nevada. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 8: Ruben Kihuen, Democratic candidate for Nevada’s 4th Congressional district, works on his victory speech with his campaign staff in a hotel room before the Nevada Democrats' election night watch party at the Aria Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
NOV. 8, 2016: Kihuen works on his victory speech with his campaign staff in a hotel room before his election night watch party at the Aria Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 8: Rep.-elect Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., kisses his mother as he delivers his victory speech flanked by his family and supporters at the Nevada Democrats' election night watch party at the Aria Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
NOV. 8, 2016: Kihuen kisses his mother as he delivers his victory speech, flanked by his family and supporters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 15: Rep.-elect Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., does an interview with Noticias Telemundo following the 115th Congress freshman class group photo on the House steps of the U.S. Capitol during orientation week in Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
NOV. 15, 2016: Kihuen does an interview with “Noticias Telemundo” after the 115th Congress freshman class group photo on the House steps of the U.S. Capitol during orientation week in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 1: Rep.-elect Lou Correa, D-Calif., left, gives Rep.-elect Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., a fist bump in the basement of the Longworth House Office Building after the New Member Orientation Room Lottery Draw for office space at the Capitol on December 1, 2016. Correa won first pick of office space while Kiuhen gets the 30th pick. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
DEC. 1, 2016: California Rep.-elect Lou Correa gives Kihuen a fist bump in the basement of the Longworth House Office Building after the lottery for new member office assignments at the Capitol. Correa won first pick of office space while Kiuhen got the 30th pick. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 1: Rep.-elect Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., takes photos of his new office in the Cannon House Office Building after the New Member Orientation Room Lottery Draw for office space at the Capitol on December 1, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
DEC. 1, 2016: Kihuen takes photos of his new office in the Cannon House Office Building. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
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DEC. 1, 2016: Massachusetts Rep. William Keating gives Kihuen a tour of his Cannon Building office, which was once occupied by former President John F. Kennedy when he served in the House. Kihuen selected the office next door. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 3: From left, Del. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, participate in the swearing-in of the 115th Congress on the House floor on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
JAN. 3, 2017: From left, Guam Del. Madeleine Z. Bordallo, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Kihuen, New York Rep. José E. Serrano, Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Florida Rep. Darren Soto participate in the swearing-in of the 115th Congress on the House floor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 2: Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., left, speaks with Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, during the House Financial Services Committee meeting to organize for the 115th Congress on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
FEB. 2, 2017: Kihuen speaks with Texas Rep. Vicente Gonzalez during the House Financial Services Committee meeting to organize for the 115th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 25: Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., reads a birthday card after his staff surprised him with birthday cake in his office on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
APRIL 25, 2017: Kihuen reads a birthday card after his staff surprised him with birthday cake in his office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 26: From left, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., and Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., make statements in opposition to using Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste disposal site during the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment hearing on the "Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act Of 2017" on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
APRIL 26, 2017: Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, Kihuen and Titus make statements in opposition to using Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste disposal site during the House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee hearing on the “Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act Of 2017.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - MAY 17: Chairman of the Democratic Caucus Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., whispers to Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., at right as House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif. speaks during the House Democrats' news conference on President Trump and Russia ties on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
MAY 17, 2017: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley whispers to Kihuen as House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff speaks during the House Democrats’ news conference on President Donald Trump and his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
 MAY 23: Democrats hoist their trophy after defeating the Republicans 5-3 at RFK Stadium in the fifth annual Capitol Soccer Classic’s congressional game on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
MAY 23, 2017: Democrats hoist their trophy after defeating the Republicans 5-3 at RFK Stadium at the fifth annual Capitol Soccer Classic’s congressional game. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
AUGUST 23: Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., sings Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " with Lynette Hull, president of the UNLV Young Democrats, during the "Karaoke with Kihuen" event at Go Go Karaoke in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. The event was organized by the UNLV Young Democrats. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
AUG. 23, 2017: Kihuen sings Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” with Lynnette Hull, president of the UNLV Young Democrats, during the “Karaoke with Kihuen” event at GoGo Karaoke in Las Vegas during the August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 5: From left, Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., and Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., gather in the Capitol with other House Democrats in solidarity with DREAMers and to speak out against President Trump’s decision to end DACA on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. Reps. Kihuen and Espaillat are the first formerly undocumented Members to serve in Congress. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
SEPT. 5, 2017: New York Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham gather with Kihuen in the Capitol to speak out against President Donald Trump’’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 5: Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., prepares to do a live television interview with Univision after gathering in the Capitol with other House Democrats in solidarity with DREAMers and to speak out against President Trump’s decision to end DACA on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
SEPT. 5, 2017: Kihuen prepares to do a live television interview with Univision after coming together with other House Democrats in the Capitol in a show of solidarity with immigrant’s affected by the president’s DACA decision. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
SEPTEMBER 6: Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., arrives to join Senate and House Democrats to urge Congressional Republicans to stand up to President Trump's decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative by bringing the DREAM Act for a vote on the House and Senate Floor. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
SEPT. 6, 2017: Kihuen arrives to join Senate and House Democrats to urge congressional Republicans to bring up the so-called DREAM Act for a vote on the House and Senate floors. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Clarification: A previous version of this story misidentified how Kihuen became undocumented. He came to the U.S. on a legal visa and became undocumented when his family overstayed that visa, according to his office. The story has been updated.

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