Here’s Why You Need to Know Rep. Adriano Espaillat, The First Undocumented Immigrant in Congress
The hot button politician blowing up everyone’s Twitter feeds is the one and only AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). While she may be the youngest, most progressive Congresswoman on record, there is another Latino breaking records that you should have on your radar.
Adriano Espaillat is a Dominican-born American politician representing New York’s 13th congressional district. And, he’s the first formerly undocumented immigrant to ever serve in Congress as well as the first Dominican to ever serve in Congress. He’s not just trying to fit in and make any power grabs either. He’s putting everything on the line to fearlessly serve the immigrant community.
1. Espaillat isn’t abandoning his community and has made them his entire platform.
In fact, in response to Trump’s most recent State of the Union Address, Espaillat has led the Democrat party to introduce an Immigration Package to the floor. He wants to protect hospitals, churches and schools from ICE’s grip, so that every individual in this country can access health, education and personal welfare without fear of deportation. Bravo.
2. Espaillat came to the U.S. as a child with his family.
He was born on September 27, 1954 in Santiago, Dominican Republic. His family moved to the U.S. (Washington Heights, NYC) when he was 10 years old.
3. Their family lived without status for a year.
Their tourist visas expired and the Espaillats had to live as undocumented until their green card applications were approved a full year later. Espaillat was only 11 years old when this happened.
4. He’s known for spearheading the 2007 effort to allow undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses.
Caption: “The love felt by parents trying to cross the border with their children is the same love my parents felt for me when my family immigrated from the Dominican Republic. Their families should have the same opportunities that I was given here in America. #ToImmigrantsWithLove”
5. He knows that he “did things right” in his journey to citizenship and is proud.
Caption: “I came to the U.S. as a child with my family, and today, it is the honor of my life to serve my community here in Congress. And I want to tell every immigrant in this country today: you are welcome here & you are a valued part of our country.”
6. He dedicates all his Valentines Days’ to immigrants.
7. He’s the great-grandson of Dominican President Ulises Espaillat.
Soo yeah. Politics runs in his blood.
8. He’s been arrested for speaking out for Dreamers.
Caption: “#OnThisDay last year, 3 lawmakers, Luis Gutierrez (IL), Raúl Grijalva (AZ) & Adriano Espaillat (NY), were arrested outside of Trump Tower for demanding more protection for young undocumented immigrants. DACA’s fate is in our leaders’ hands.”
9. Espaillat led the initial effort to Impeach Trump.
While America elected both the first formerly undocumented immigrant to Congress as the most nativist, racist President in history, Espaillat cosigned the bill to begin the impeachment process against Trump.
10. “Not all Trump supporters are racists, but all racists voted for Donald Trump.”
In an interview with Vice News, he said, “The Klan used to wear a hood. Now they don’t; they openly come out and spill their venom out there for everybody to see their identity.”
He hosted the first ever “Dominicans On the Hill” community event in Washington D.C.
He plans to make it an annual event to celebrate Dominican community leaders and invite them to Congress and “to highlight Dominican heritage, our culture and diversity.”
11. And he marches with Boricuas at the Puerto Rican Pride Parade también.
He flew to Puerto Rico to survey the damages and relief efforts on behalf of his Puerto Rican constituents. He himself used to be the chair of the New York State Senate’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative caucus.
12. He celebrates Three Kings Day with his constituents like a good Latino.
13. His group of interns are actually diverse.
No more Paul Ryan selfies with a hundred white people behind him. This is why we need to diversify Congress—to give opportunities to brown kids.
14. He loves One Day at a Time!
He’s out here retweeting NPR Latino interviews with Justina Machado and Isabella Gomez, shipping the Latinidad of the show.
15. When Verizon and DirectTV dropped Televisión Dominicana, Espaillat called on the companies to change course.
His exact statement according to Latin Times was this: “The recent decision by AT&T to remove Televisión Dominicana from its lineup shows cultural disregard, indifference, and lack in the network’s efforts to promote diversity among its programming. Promoting diverse voices and minority representation are critical to our success in telecommunications and the marketplace. I strongly encourage both parties to return to the negotiation table to find the best solution in the interests for my constituents and for their customers.”
He also called on Dominicans living in the US to petition the companies and tweeted out their phone numbers to call to complain. The networks ignored the call for diversity. 😡
17. His full name is Adriano de Jesús Espaillat Cabral.
Caption: “@RepEspaillat visited with Colombian President Iván Duque during today’s House Foreign Affairs @HouseForeign Committee meeting.”
20. He’s not letting up anytime soon. #LaResistencia
Caption: “Delighted to be back in my district! I’m working on behalf of #NY13 and to combat the #FakeTrumpEmergency that this administration is promoting to build Trump’s reckless #BorderWall. My fight continues.”