Ana de Alba did not sleep in her own bed until she was 15.
The daughter of Central Valley farmworkers, the Fresno County Superior Court judge is just a few votes away from taking a seat on the federal bench.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing Wednesday in Washington, D.C. De Alba was one of five nominees — split into two panels — to testify.
“I spent my childhood toiling alongside my parents and brothers in the fields of California’s Central Valley. My parents immigrated to the United States (from Mexico), bringing with them entrenched values of honesty, humility, hard work and determination to ensure that their children received a good education,” de Alba told the committee.
Unlike her fellow nominees, de Alba, a 41-year-old Democrat, did not face any inquisitions from a Republican senator. She told her life story about hard work and family.
During her testimony, de Alba talked about how her mother encouraged her education, even though she could not help with homework or volunteering.
“My mother’s love was there through every starched crease, reminding us to work hard so that we could build a better life,” de Alba said.
De Alba slept in a sleeping bag on the floor of her modest South Dos Palos (Merced County) home with “very questionable plumbing.”
During school breaks, de Alba cleaned homes with her mother. A flat tire could mean they did not have enough money for food.
U.C. Berkeley and Back
That belief in education led de Alba to UC Berkeley for both undergraduate and law school. She returned home to work in private practice.
De Alba also established worker’s rights clinics for low wage earners. In a previous interview, she said her own family’s experience of not being paid provided the motivation.
“I wanted to go back to the Central Valley. I wanted to do work that would help bring equality and justice to to my community,” de Alba said.
Then-Gov. Jerry Brown nominated de Alba to the Fresno County bench in 2018, where she has served as a judge in the misdemeanor and juvenile courts.
De Alba said she had to work nights and weekends to get up to speed on areas of law she never practiced before.
“I’m kind of comfortable in the uncomfortable, right? I’m used to being the outsider,” de Alba said.
President Joe Biden nominated de Alba to the federal bench in January.
She received praise from Sen. Alex Padilla, D-CA, who introduced her, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ.
If confirmed, de Alba would replace the retired Morrison England, Jr. Padilla said de Alba would be the first Latina to serve in the Eastern District of California.
The judiciary committee still needs to take a vote before de Alba’s nomination moves on to the full Senate.