Sunday evening, from the 32nd floor of Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay hotel, 64-year old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival, killing at least 58 and wounding hundreds more. Paddock was found dead in his hotel room about an hour after the shooting began.
Investigators have yet to uncover a motive behind the attack, though police have indicated that Paddock appears to have acted alone. The Islamic State has issued a statement claiming responsibility, but officials have not verified this claim nor yet discovered any evidence linking Paddock to the extremist group.
Congressman Ruben Kihuen, who represents Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, which includes the city of Las Vegas, has been touring the city in the aftermath of the nation’s deadliest shooting.
Here’s what you need to know about Ruben Kihuen:
1. Kihuen Called the Shooting A “Despicable Act of Violence” & Has Been Visiting Victims, Investigators, & First Responders
Kihuen released a statement condemning the attack early Monday morning, calling it a “despicable act of violence.”
He went on to say, “This cowardly attack on innocent people will not define who we are as a city, state, or country.
In an interview with Las Vegas’ local FOX News affiliate, Kihuen commended the sense of community that pervaded on the ground at the music festival: “When you see … regular American citizens helping each other out, and saving their life, and putting them in the back of their truck, and taking them to the hospital, or conducting CPR, all of that is the best of humanity.”
The congressman visited victims at Sunrise Hospital Monday morning, and tweeted from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department command center later that day.
Kihuen has also made numerous pleas on his Twitter page for blood donations.
2. Kihuen Was Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, & Is the Nation’s First Formerly Undocumented Congressman
Kiheun was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1980. His father, Armando Kihuen, moved to the U.S. to work as a strawberry harvester when Kiheun was a young boy.
Two years later, an immigrant amnesty program launched by President Reagan enabled Armando to bring his family to the U.S. in 1988.
Kihuen is not only Nevada’s first Latino congressman, he’s the first formerly undocumented immigrant to ever serve in the United States Congress. However, a spokesman for Kihuen clarified in January that “he and his family arrived legally and then overstayed their visas which pushed them into the undocumented category.”
3. Formerly a State Senator, He Unseated Republican Cresent Hardy in 2016’s Race for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District
Kihuen worked for 10 years as an advisor at the University of Southern Nevada. According to his campaign website, “he worked his way through college and he was inspired to “pay it forward” by working with other college students.”
In the political sphere, he previously worked as a staffer for Senator Harry Reid, served for two terms in the Nevada State Assembly and in three terms as a state senator.
In 2016, he challenged incumbent Congressman Cresent Hardy to represent Las Vegas in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, unseating the one-term legislator by a margin of about 4 percentage points.
After winning the election, Kihuen said a statement:
I am humbled by this opportunity to serve the people of the 4th District. When my family came to America 28 years ago with nothing, we never imagined the day where I would be elected to the United States House of Representatives. In January I’ll go to Washington to work to improve this country for the people I’ve been elected to represent.
He also thanked his “friend and mentor” Harry Reid in his victory speech on election night.
4. Kihuen Ran for Congress on a Platform of Gun Control & Supported Stronger Gun Control Laws While in the State Legislature
Kihuen, who strongly condemned the violence that took place at the Mandalay Bay hotel on Sunday night, has long been a proponent of stricter gun control laws.
On his 2016 campaign website, Kihuen outlined the gun control measures he had supported during his tenure in the state legislature:
In the State Senate, I helped champion legislation to require universal background checks for all gun sales in Nevada and I called for a special legislative session shortly after the tragic incident in San Bernardino, to address gun violence prevention – including closing the terrorist watch-list loophole. I fought against reckless Republican bills that would have allowed guns in our public schools, including college campuses and elementary schools.
He also called the National Rifle Association a “profit-protecting, corporate machine,” adding that massive gun-rights organization distorted the debate on gun control due to its allegiance to weapons manufacturers.
Kihuen in fact ran on a platform of gun control during his 2016 campaign. His team released television ads claiming that opponent, Republican Cresent Hardy, had “dangerous priorities” when it game to guns.
“Hardy fits right in with Republicans who have repeatedly voted against background checks,” says the ad.
5. Kihuen Supports Immigration Reform & Opposed the Repeal of DACA
Kihuen was among many members of Congress who pleaded with President Trump earlier this year not to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, or DACA, which granted amnesty to immigrants who arrived to the country at children.
The Trump administration did ultimately repeal DACA, also known as the Dreamers Act, in September.
Kihuen, along with fellow formerly undocumented legislator Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), wrote to Trump:
Our backgrounds and the trajectory of our careers have been humbling, and show how, with the right opportunities, anyone can achieve the American Dream. Hearing about the looming threat to other young men and women who may be deprived of that American Dream is extremely concerning, and is causing fear in communities throughout the country.
The congressman had previously criticized Trump over his January 2017 Executive Order banning immigration from seven countries considered terrorists threats. “I was once undocumented- now I’m a member of Congress,” he tweeted to the president.
According to Kihuen’s spokesman, Michael Salazar, “[Kihuen] and his family arrived legally and then overstayed their visas which pushed them into the undocumented category.”
Kihuen’s 2016 campaign website puts “passing comprehensive immigration reform” as a top priority for the congressman. “Ironically, my family and I, who immigrated to this country when I was 8, are only here because of Ronald Reagan’s immigration reform of 1986. President Reagan and so many others understood that when you give hardworking immigrants a chance, they contribute to our economy and help make this country the greatest in the world,” the Democratic legislator said in praise of the two-term Republican president.
He further adds that reform should be a bipartisan effort that may take a variety of forms, but said that he would not support legislation that did not provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigratns.
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