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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Victory Lap Rallies To Abolish ICE, Erase Student Loan Debt And Keep Organizing

Alexandria Ocasio-Ortiz was just elected to represent New York’s 14th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the youngest woman in history, at 29 years old, to be elected to Congress. While that alone is a huge accomplishment, Ocasio-Cortez is just getting started.

In her victory speech Tuesday night, she named abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), erasure of student loan debt and healthcare for all is “what we deserve as a nation.” Meet the freshly minted politician and her policies to change the New York political landscape.

“This is the beginning.”

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Instagram

During her victory speech Tuesday night, Ocasio-Cortez made it clear that every person who helped secure her values to victory is coming with her to Washington. Given that Ocasio-Cortez refused to accept any campaign contributions from lobbyists or special interests, she truly was buoyed by the community.

Her name on the ballot was a major upset in the primaries, when she unseated a 10-term Democratic incumbent.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

She quickly was made famous nationwide for such a historic upset. Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley raised $4 million more dollars than her campaign did, and yet, her progressive views won The Bronx.

Today, she is the youngest woman in Congress.

CREDIT: Screenshot. Digital Video. NBC News. 8 November 2018.

She broke the record of Republican Elise Stefanik, who was elected in 2014 at age 30. Ocasio-Cortez will assume office on Jan. 3, 2019.

Before running for office, she was a bartender at a Mexican restaurant.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

She was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents and graduated from Boston University. After college, she moved back to the Bronx and waited tables while fighting the foreclosure of her family home after her father died of lung cancer in 2008.

When she found out she was purged from the NY voter rolls and couldn’t vote in 2016, she got pissed.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

Instead of doing nothing, she campaigned hard for Bernie Sanders and then traveled to Flint, Mich. and Standing Rock. Seeing people put their whole lives into their community helped Ocasio-Cortez realize that politics isn’t just for the powerful and rich.

Yet, on election day, she was thinking about the disenfranchised island of Puerto Rico.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

She has not been shy about legitimizing questions around Puerto Rico’s political status. In a tweet back in February, she pointed to the federal government’s lackluster response to starvation, hospital shut downs and delayed death tolls because “the US gov has refused to ANY discussion of PR’s political status – whether that be statehood or independence. This is the result.”

Ocasio-Cortez has a 5-step plan for Puerto Rico.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

She wants to create a Marshall Plan that would move Puerto Rico past recovery mode and into thrive mode, with renewable energy systems and modern infrastructure. She intends to forgive Puerto Rico’s Wall Street debt, which has been accrued by “vulture funds” using irresponsible behavior latent in the 2008 financial crisis.

She also wants to waive and review the Jones Act, which puts an undue burden on the Puerto Rican economy that other American communities do not have to contend with. She also understands that all this injustice is embedded in deep, dark roots that will take a lot to untangle.

Ocasio-Cortez is so working class that she can’t even afford housing in Washington until she gets on Congress’s payroll in January.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Instagram

Ocasio-Cortez told the New York Times that she quit her job to run for Congress, and now that she’s won, she has three months without a salary and without real funds to get an apartment.

Of course, she took the opportunity to tell it like it is in a tweet, saying, “There are many little ways in which our electoral system isn’t even designed (nor prepared) for working-class people to lead.”

Ocasio-Cortez is aiming to fight Trump to protect the LGBTQIA+ community in a major way.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Instagram

On her campaign website, Ocasio-Cortez writes that advocating for legislation like the Equality Act is more urgent than ever. She wants to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. Punta.

Included in that effort is to be inclusive when talking about universal healthcare, allowing gender-affirming healthcare to be covered.

Ocasio-Cortez was voted in to #AbolishICE and now she has the power to bring it to government.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

Her campaign website states:

“It’s time to abolish ICE, clear the path to citizenship, and protect the rights of families to remain together. ICE was created in 2003, in the same suite of post-9/11 legislation as the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. Its founding was part of an unchecked expansion of executive powers that led to the widespread erosion of Americans’ civil rights.

As overseen by the Trump administration, ICE operates with virtually no accountability, ripping apart families and holding our friends and neighbors indefinitely in inhumane detention centers scattered across the United States.”

She will endorse the DREAM Act.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Instagram

Because America is built on immigrants. And immigrants are people who deserve due process and dignity, two things that ICE has proven over and over again incapable of doing.

ICE was founded under extrajudicial circumstances; it operates under extrajudicial circumstances–it’s gotta go.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

Ocasio-Cortez has gone on record adamantly opposing the existence of ICE and suggesting a replacement organization that aims for safe passage and continued protection of our borders.

Ocasio-Cortez wants to end the war in Iraq.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Instagram

She sees America for how the world sees it. On her campaign website, she writes, “America should not be in the business of destabilizing countries. While we may see ourselves as liberators, the world increasingly views us as occupiers and aggressors. Alexandria believes that we must end the “forever war” by bringing our troops home, and ending the air strikes that perpetuate the cycle of terrorism throughout the world.”

She’s going to protect the Bronx with stricter gun control laws.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

America is suffering from gun violence at a rate of 10 times higher than in other high-income countries. Why? Because America has the NRA, a gun manufacturer organization disguised as a civil rights organization.

Ocasio-Cortez wants to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, because the Founding Fathers had no idea what was coming.

Ocasio-Cortez is a woman who is for all women.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

She’s here to decriminalize sex work, to support legislation that promotes caregiving and paid family leave, along with access to equal pay across all genders.

Ocasio-Cortez is expanding the notion of reproductive freedom beyond abortion rights, to include marginalized transgender folks.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Instagram

She believes that the government should not roll back funding to any health care center that offers birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention or reproductive health care services deemed “immoral” by any religion.

In an interview with Refinery29, she said, “If women and gender-expanding people want to run for office, we can’t knock on anybody’s door – we have to build our own house.”

We’re building this house together, New York.

Ocasio-Cortez wants to make public colleges and universities across the country tuition-free.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Instagram

In her victory speech Tuesday night, she described our entire generation’s crippling student loan debt “a ticking time bomb for our economy” and she’s right. Compared to our parents, our inflation-moderated potential for net income is 30 percent less. We need free tuition to actually get ahead in life. Thank you very much.

Her major campaign goal is to achieve healthcare for all.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Twitter

She was the only candidate that didn’t accept money from pharmaceutical lobbyists or private insurance companies, meaning she has la ganas to bring single payer health care to the American people.

In Congress, she plans to endorse the Improved and Expanded Medicare for All Act.

Ocasio-Cortez won votes with her progressive policies. She also won votes by being her brutally honest self.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Instagram

Caption: “Sometimes people ask me how this feels. To be honest, at least in part, I feel scared. Anxious. Overwhelmed. And that’s okay. It is a surreal experience to go from being virtually anonymous to having an enormous amount of attention overnight. Things went from feeling like folks going out of their way NOT to cover our campaign to feeling like there’s a microscope on my every word, joke, meal, outfit, or makeup decision. Every time a media event like this happens I get NERVOUS. But I also think about how I never got to see anyone like me on any magazines growing up. I never saw a version myself in leadership, or on TV, or anywhere really and think, “That could be me.”

In a district that is 70 percent POC, Ocasio-Cortez is the first woman of color to ever even try running for Congress in the district.

CREDIT: @Ocasio2018 / Instagram

We are so excited and proud to see women like us in leadership. Please turn this country around. We’re rooting for you, querida.


READ: How Latinos Made History Across The Country During The Midterm Elections

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A Twenty-One Year Old Man Overslept On His First Day Of Jury Duty And Now He’s Being Sentenced To Jail And Has A Record

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A Twenty-One Year Old Man Overslept On His First Day Of Jury Duty And Now He’s Being Sentenced To Jail And Has A Record

screenshot | NBC Nightly News

These days, it doesn’t take much poking around to know that our country’s judicial system is problematic, troublesome and inherently racist. A few months ago, when news broke out about the college admissions scandals, those following the news knew well that the wealthy parents who took part in the scam would walk away essentially scot-free. They weren’t wrong. 

Earlier last month, on September 13th, actress Felicity Huffman, one of the most recognizable names caught up in the admissions scandal, was sentenced to just 14 days in federal prison for her involvement in a case that saw her charged for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Huffman’s case highlighted questions of inequity in our judicial system. Many were quick to point out that Huffman, like the other three dozen parents involved, were from extreme wealth and would undoubtedly be treated differently from poor or nonwhite defendants accused of admission and education fraud. For severe charges that were lobbed at white-collar crime convicts like former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and took education opportunities away from students far less privileged than her own kids, Huffman received 14 days in jail. 

Twenty-one-year-old Deandre Somerville should have been so lucky. 

The Florida man from West Palm Beach was sentenced to 10 days in jail this past week after a judge found him in criminal contempt of court after he overslept and missed the start of a trial he had been selected to serve jury duty for. At the time, Somerville looked up the repercussions online and according to NBC News said that he “didn’t really see too much there. … [It looked like] nobody actually ever really went to jail for it.”  Because of this, he did not notify the court or its jury office.

Deandre Somerville was sentenced to 10 days in jail, one year of probation and 150 hours of community service for failing to show up for jury duty.

The 21-year-old was also told to write a letter of apology to the court and pay $223 to cover court costs. Speaking about his own sentence, Somerville told NBC that he felt as if he “didn’t need any rehabilitation… I just made a mistake.”

According to Somerville, his 10 days in jail were “traumatic.” Sommerville who recently moved in with his grandparents to help care for them had never been arrested before now has a criminal record for contempt and spent his 10 days in jail amongst hardened criminals and in fear. 

The judge who gave Somerville his sentencing stemmed from his duty to represent his Black community.

Speaking at Somerville’s formal apology in court, Judge John Kastrenakes, of Fort Lauderdale Florida, said that he wanted to “make an example” out of Somerville to ensure more people do not fail to show up to jury duty. “Mr. Somerville was the only African American on our jury and represented a very important cross-section of our community.”

But people of color have long been used to “make an example,” when privileged nonpeople of color have caused greater harm and damage and gotten off easy. 

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was quick to underline this point in a recent tweet shared with her profile. 

“Mass incarceration is our American reality. It is a system whose logic evolved from the same lineage as Jim Crow, American apartheid, & slavery. To end it, we have to change. That means we need to have a real conversation about decarceration & prison abolition in this country,” she wrote in a retweet of a post shared by comedian Chelsea Handler who also lambasted the judge for his decision. 

AOC’s retweet went onto highlight in a thread the flaws of our judicial system citing a recent experience she had meeting a woman who had been sent to Rikers as a teen.” Yesterday morning I spoke with a woman who was thrown in Rikers as a teenager. Put in solitary confinement for MONTHS, aka torture. Force-fed pills. The conditions were so bad, she too had drank out of toilets. A cage is a cage is a cage. And humans don’t belong in them,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

The young Congresswoman’s thread highlights the severe punishments people of color have and continued to endure at the cost of our country’s broken prison and judicial system. Her message is a reminder that the actual point of the prison system is to rehabilitate, not punish those who are incarcerated and sent to jail or prison. 

This Is How Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Plans To Tackle Poverty In The US

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This Is How Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Plans To Tackle Poverty In The US

Since making her way to Capitol Hill at the start of the year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most progressive voices in Congress — and her recently-unveiled policy package to tackle US poverty assures that her vision for the country hasn’t gotten any less bold.

“I am both energized and humbled to introduce legislation today to build upon the most transformative programs of the last century,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement.

The first-year lawmaker’s legislative package is called “A Just Society,” and it includes six individual bills.

ocasio2018 / Instagram

First, the Puerto Rican congresswoman aims to update the way the US government currently calculates poverty and determines eligibility for welfare. At the moment, a single person is considered “poor” in the US if they make less than $12,500 a year. If someone makes more than that, then they are unable to benefit from programs like Medicaid, even though they could still be struggling gravely economically.  Through the proposal, called the Recognizing Poverty Act, Ocasio-Cortez would prompt the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to modify the equation so that it takes more details into account, including a person’s geographic cost of living, what portion of their income they spend on health insurance or child care, and spending toward utilities. This act would undoubtedly result in a rise in the number of people who live at or below the federal poverty level and would widen people’s eligibility to welfare programs, like Medicaid, food stamps and family planning services.

According to the U.S. Census, about 40 million Americans live in poverty, a harrowing reality that the congresswoman doesn’t think many people in the country know or understand. “If we can acknowledge how many Americans are actually in poverty I think that we can start to address some of the more systemic issues in our economy,” she told NPR.

Her policy bundle includes proposals that could help the country’s most marginalized communities, including immigrants and people who were formerly incarcerated. For instance, her Mercy in Re-entry Act proposes that individuals who have been convicted of a criminal offense would be ensured access to all federal public benefits. Presently, many states ban people with felony drug convictions from receiving welfare and food stamps.

Even more, formerly incarcerated individuals often struggle to obtain government-issued IDs. 

ocasio2018 / Instagram

Additionally, her so-called Embrace Act would guarantee federal public benefits access to anyone, regardless of their immigration status. Currently, undocumented immigrants, including DACA holders, are not eligible to receive most federal public benefits, including benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), regular Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). They’re also ineligible for health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and are prohibited from purchasing unsubsidized health coverage on ACA exchanges. Still, these individuals might be able to take advantage of some benefits that are deemed “necessary to protect life or guarantee safety in dire situations,” such as emergency Medicaid, access to treatment in hospital emergency rooms, or access to healthcare and nutrition programs under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). However, rumors that the Trump administration is considering blocking immigrants using public benefits from getting their green cards is currently halting the most vulnerable in these communities from using those life-saving benefits.

“From the New Deal to the Great Society, we have shown time and again that our nation is capable of implementing big ideas and bold solutions that match the scale of the challenges we face,” Ocasio-Cortez, 29, said in her statement. “We must once again recognize the breadth and consequences of poverty in this country and work together to ensure a path forward to economic freedom for everyone.”

Her wide-ranging proposal also considers tenants and workers.

ocasio2018 / Instagram

The Place to Prosper Act would tackle the housing crisis by introducing a 3 percent national cap on annual rent increases, among other provisions. Meanwhile, the Uplift Our Workers Act would prompt the Department of Labor and the Office of Management and Budget to create a “worker-friendly score” for federal contractors.

Finally, the congressional freshman also proposed a resolution dubbed A Just Society Guarantees the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for All that would request the Senate to ratify the U.N. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

While critics have called Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal a “radical, extreme-left agenda,” the congresswoman believes it could effectively tackle the US’ poverty crisis and help the people of one of the wealthiest nations in the world to live a life beyond destitution. 

“In a modern, moral, and wealthy society, no person should be too poor to live,” Ocasio-Cortez says in a video introducing her legislation. “That’s what a just society means to me.” 

Ocasio-Cortez’s legislative package is her latest ambitious proposal. Back in February, when the congressional newbie was just one month on the job, she introduced the much-talked-about Green New Deal, a series of proposals backed by leading Democrats to tackle climate change.

Read: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Made A Student Loan Payment During Meeting To Prove A Point About Corruption