U.S. Rep. David Valadao was in a minority of House Republicans who supported comprehensive immigration reform.
He has argued that reform is necessary for the economy, a popular standpoint among many in California, where immigrants are a crucial part of farming and other businesses.
For his stance, Valadao received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise award on Monday.
"To put it simply, if all members of Congress were as good on the issues that matter to you as David Valadao is, we'd have a stronger economy than we do today, more jobs than we do today, and, well, I think we'd all be just a little bit happier this Monday morning," Chamber of Commerce Western Regional Director Dick Castner told the audience, according to The Hill.
The chamber has praised Valadao before for his support of immigration reform measures that would, among other things, provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants and expand guest worker visas.
The son of Portuguese immigrants, Valadao is in a close race with Democrat Amanda Renteria.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertisements in Valadao's district, noting that he is the son of immigrants.
Latinos make up more than half of the registered voters in Valadao's district, which is one of several targets for Democrats, who need to win 17 seats to win control of the House.
"My constituents understand I've been in the middle of it," Valadao said, referring to immigration reform efforts. "I've been vocal. I've signed onto legislation. I continue to put pressure on the leadership."
Valadao’s family came to the United States from Portugal in 1969. His father started a dairy farm a few years before Valadao was born in 1977. Valadao works in the family business, which includes two dairies and more than 1,000 acres of farmland in California.
When he addressed the crowd at the Chamber event Monday, Valadao spoke about his support for water policies to help California agricultural business owners deal with a serious drought.
"He's been a real leader within his own party," Castner said about Valadao's support for immigration in an interview with The Hill after the event. "He is very much on the cutting edge of what's a tough issue. ... It's a pretty courageous place to be, but it's the right place to be. We need a lot more David Valadaos and we'd get this damn thing done."