Attorney and activist Domingo Garcia wants to become the first Hispanic in North Texas to occupy a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On July 31, Garcia will face African-American Marc Veasey in a runoff for the Democratic nomination in the recently created District 33, which includes parts of Dallas and Tarrant counties.

In an area with a Democratic majority, whoever wins the nomination is practically certain to win the election in November.

At 54, Garcia knows the vicissitudes of public office after serving as city councilman from 1991-1995 and as a Texas state legislator from 1996-2002.

But he also knows at first hand the bitterness of defeat from the time in 2002 when he failed to garner the necessary votes to become mayor of Dallas.

His wish to help others and defend immigrants' rights has been evident since his formative years.

"In high school he was student body president and when he went to college he became part of a Chicano civic group called CAUSA, through which he tried to promote Mexican-American culture," Garcia told Efe in an interview.

Since then he has been affiliated with many projects for the protection of citizens' rights.

Born in the West Texas city of Midland of an undocumented Mexican father and a Native American mother, Garcia was 10 when the family moved to Dallas, where he worked as a shoeshine boy and construction worker.

After finishing high school, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of North Texas, a master's degree in international relations from El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City and a law degree from Texas Southern University.

While doing those collegiate rounds "I met my wife and when I returned I opened a law firm," said Garcia, whose success as a criminal defense attorney allowed him to amass several million dollars.

Today he has offices in several Texas cities, appears in the media doing ads for his practice and makes the news leading protest marches, such as occurred in 2006 when he was instrumental in rallying more than 500,000 people in Dallas to demand that the government do something about immigration reform.

"The great majority of people who took part in those historic demonstrations were doing it for the first time and it was through those experiences that we began creating a base, essential for our political future in the state," he said.

"It's now that we're seeing a new generation of emerging Latino leaders who want change and hope to make a difference to Texas politics," Garcia said.

"When they learn the civic importance of choosing their representatives, they will pass that legacy on to their children and grandchildren," he said.

The most notable goal he has set for himself, should he go to Washington, has to do with the struggle that millions of people go through, as did his own father when he came to this country.

Specifically, that goal means "achieving immigration reform and taking care of undocumented students so they can go forward in life with the right immigration status," Garcia said. EFE