Things That Matter

Jessica Cisneros Is 26 Years Old And Has Some Big Plans To Rep Her District If Elected To Congress

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is hoping she loses her title as the youngest ever elected Congressperson, and she wants to pass the crown onto Jessica Cisneros. Cisneros is a thriving 26-year-old immigrant rights attorney and a proud Tejana who wants to advocate for her border town district in the Capitol. In the ways that matter most – immigrant rights, environmental justice, and healthcare for all – AOC and Cisneros are in the same fight. 

Until they can work together in Congress, however, Cisneros has to unseat another Democratic Latino, Henry Cuellar, who has held the seat for eight terms in a row. Now his greatest contender, Cisneros used to be his intern.

Jessica Cisneros considers her opponent, Representative Cuellar, “Trump’s favorite Democrat.”

Credit: @emilyslist / Twitter

Cuellar has taken donations from the likes of immigrant detention centers and the Koch brothers. Cuellar maintains an “A” rating by the National Rifle Association. He’s even co-sponsored anti-abortion legislation, which would have banned abortion after week 20. In 2014, Cuellar was the only House Democrat to vote for a bill that made it easier to deport unaccompanied minors. 

Still, Cisneros tells The New York Times that she was “very, very excited” to intern with him. She thought she’d be helping her people. “Once I got there,” she continued, “I noticed his silence on a lot of things I care about: women’s rights, poverty, health care. People I know with diabetes have to go to Nuevo Laredo for medications because it’s so expensive.”

Like AOC, Cisneros refused to accept corporate PAC donations, which frees her up to be more accountable to her constituents than to corporations.

Credit: jcisnerostx_ / Instagram

The short story is that Cisneros can’t be bought. Every constituent’s voice carries equal weight in her decision-making process. “Less than 1% of my opponent’s donations last year came from small-dollar donations: under $6000,” Cisneros shares to her social media campaign account. “In 6 hours, our campaign received more small-dollar donations than my opponent did ALL last cycle. I’m proud to take no corporate PAC money so I am accountable only to the people.”

Her primary campaign platform is to reform the broken immigration system.

Credit: jcisnerostx_ / Instagram

When Cisneros was 7 years old, she witnessed Mexican families crossing the border, and “would see that they were terrified.” She tells The New York Times that even then, at 7 years old, she couldn’t see the difference between those families, and her own. She knew she would become a lawyer, and went on to serve immigrants trying to navigate the complicated immigration system. As a practicing lawyer, it was a horrible pill to swallow to learn that there isn’t much she can do to help grant her clients asylum as a lawyer. The laws don’t exist to allow lawyers to effectively serve their clients.

I realized that if the laws are the problem, then I am going to have to go to Congress to fix that,” she tells The New York Times.

She’s experienced the failing healthcare system first-hand and wants to change it.

Credit: jcisnerostx_ / Instagram

Cisneros’s parents used to live across the bridge in Nuevo Laredo, México, but when her older sister needed medical care only available in the United States, they moved to Laredo, Texas. Soon after, Jessica was born. Her father, a farmworker, started a produce trucking business while her mom took care of the children. Still, she continued to see how her sister wasn’t able to get the urgent medical care she needed. Cisneros’s campaign aims to grant Medicare for all to “all who call America home.” She wants to scrap copays, deductibles, and premiums.

Cisneros wants to create a “renewable economy through solar and wind.”

Credit: jcisnerostx_ / Instagram

The Green New Deal is arguably AOC’s most ambitious and urgent proposal during her Congressional term. While donning a “Green New Deal” shirt, Cisneros captions the social media photo with her own local campaign for a “big bold plan like the Green New Deal.”The Rio Grande River is the lifeblood and only source of water for our border community,” she posts. “We must improve infrastructure that will clean our water and sustain our community far into the future,” she writes, adding that such an industry would “provide a new wave of jobs for our district.”  

AOC’s endorsement is huge, but Cisneros is committed to being “the first Jessica Cisneros.”

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

As far as being compared to AOC as a young Latina, Cisneros tells The New York Times, “People think because I am a young Latina who is trying to help the Democratic Party I am just like her. I have a lot of admiration for her, but that doesn’t mean we’re the same. I am trying to be the first Jessica Cisneros, and just do that well.” Still, AOC’s endorsement has invited supporters like Tere Schaefer to tweet, “Thank you AOC! I sure hope @JCisnerosTX  joins #TheSquad in the next term. I don’t live in TX but I’ll donate to her.”

Cisneros has also been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Justice Democrats. You can donate to her campaign here.

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