Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday night ousted the man considered most likely to replace Nancy Pelosi as leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. But just three days before her surprising win, she took a break from her upstart political campaign to travel to the Tornillo, Texas, tent city that is housing hundreds of immigrant children.
The 28-year-old was born in the Bronx. Her mother is from Puerto Rico. She attended Boston University, where she earned degrees in economics and international relations, and also spent time working in the office of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. After graduating, she returned to the Bronx where she became a community organizer. During the 2016 presidential primary, she worked for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Nine months ago, she was still working as a server at a restaurant even as she campaigned.
As a candidate, she joined a number of progressive voices calling for an end to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. She hashtagged many of her tweets from Tornillo with #abolishICE and included the position on her campaign website: “The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was created in 2003, in the same suite of post-9/11 legislation as the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. It’s founding was part of an unchecked expansion of executive powers that led to the widespread erosion of Americans’ civil rights. … ICE operates outside the scope of the Department of Justice and is unaccountable to our nation’s standards of due process.”