Society

Former Undocumented Immigrant Set To Become Congressman

| by Emily Walthouse
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat speaks at the launch of the M60 lineState Sen. Adriano Espaillat speaks at the launch of the M60 line

New York State Sen. Adriano Espaillat took the stage on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. 

Beginning his speech in support of fellow New York leader Hillary Clinton on July 25, the Democrat stated, “I will become the first Dominican-American to ever serve in the U.S. Congress," according to Observer Politics.

In June, Espaillat secured his place in history by claiming victory in his state’s democratic primary election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Espaillat is a “shoo-in” to win the general election for his congressional position this fall, as voters will likely vote for a Democrat. With the official win, Espaillat will become the first Dominican-American elected to Congress.

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Espaillat indicated that his seat in Congress will be revolutionary for additional reasons.

“Perhaps even just as important,” he said, “I will be the first member of Congress who was once undocumented as an immigrant.”

The future congressman followed this statement in Philadelphia with a, “Take that Trump!”

He continued to speak about his history and the lives of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. as a method of campaigning for Clinton.

“For us immigrants, our commitment to this country isn’t always found in our papers, in our documents,” he said. “Even on our worst day that tall elegant lady sits in New York Harbor, and she says Donald Trump, every day, give me your poor.”

After making his DNC speech, Espaillat retweeted a July 27 post from President Barack Obama that read, "The American Dream is something no wall can contain."

Espaillat will represent the areas of East Harlem and Washington Heights, replacing retiring Congressman Charles B. Rangel, who has served in the House for 45 years, according to The New York Times.

Espaillat’s words at the DNC closely resembled an address he delivered to New Yorkers shortly after the primaries that secured his future. Speaking to residents of Washington Heights on June 28, he said, “We stand on a hill and on any given day, on a bad day we can see that lady in the harbor.” 

He told fellow immigrants, “This is an American story.”

New York’s 13th district has had an African-American representative for more than 70 years. The area originally was designated in the 1940s for the purpose of allowing an African-American leader to represent Harlem in the District of Columbia. The Dominican-American will break this trend for the first time since its creation.

Sources: Observer Politics, The New York Times, Adriano Espaillat/Twitter / Photo Credit: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit via Flickr

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