The legacy of Esteban Torres, longtime L.A. congressman who championed Latino rights

Esteban Torres, a son of East Los Angeles who emerged from the Chicano civil rights movement to become an eight-term congressman who pushed for social and economic change to help empower Latinos, died on January 25th at 91.

A former union leader who served in President Carter’s administration, Torres died of natural causes , according to a family statement.

Esteban Torres, public servant

“Torres was a pathbreaking public servant and a lifelong fighter for the common good,” U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla said in a statement. “Torres’ pride in his working-class, immigrant roots and his belief in the American dream drove his dedication to labor activism and community organizing.”

Janet Murguia, president and chief executive of UnidosUS, recalled working with Torres to protect workers and enhance investment in border communities during the debates over the North American Freedom Trade Agreement, the pact signed by Mexico, Canada and the U.S. “From the moment he took office, he made improving the lives of Hispanics in our country a top priority,” she said. “He played a crucial role in both the passage and later the implementation of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which gave legal status to more than 3 million people.”

As a child, Torres lived in a camp in Arizona where his father worked in the copper mines. Eventually, the elder Torres was deported along with more than a million other people of […]

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