Get to know the 21 Latinas in U.S. Congress for Women’s History Month
There are 21 Latina Congresswomen, 11 of whom are new faces on Capitol Hill in the 118th Congress.
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Women’s History Month is to honor and commemorate the women who for decades have fought for equality, justice, and opportunity. It should also be a commitment on behalf of all of us to further advance rights and open up more opportunities.
Their full participation in the democratic process has always been threatened and women — often women of color — are the ones fighting throughout history in the trenches.
Despite any progress made in the last three decades, there is still more to do and having women in the halls of power in D.C. is a way of bringing about change for future generations.
The current U.S. Congress has 125 women; 21 are Latina, and seven of them are newcomers. Meet the Latinas of Congress and the newcomers for the 2023-24 class.
Note: The members are listed in alphabetical order.
Rep. Nanette Barragán: (D-California) District 44
The Democratic Representative of California has served in the U.S. House since 2017 and was formerly a City Councilmember for Hermosa Beach from 2013 to 2015. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Barragán became the first Latina to represent California’s 44th Congressional District.
Barragán was the first woman in over a decade to be elected to the Hermosa Beach City Council, and was then elected as the first-ever Latina to serve as Mayor of Hermosa Beach. In her time on City Council, she fought for environmental justice which included a successful bout against a powerful oil company.
On Dec. 15, Barragán, was elected as the new Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Rep. Yadira Caraveo: (D-Colorado) District 8
Newcomer and pediatrician, Caraveo, represents Colorado's 8th congressional district and was the state’s first Latina member of Congress. She previously represented the 31st district in the state House of Representatives from 2019 to 2023.
She was born in Colorado to Mexican undocumented parents who arrived in the 1970s but were granted amnesty under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. She volunteered for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign while in medical school and received her bachelor's degree from Regis University and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer: (R-Oregon) District 5
Chavez-DeRemer is another new face on the House floor. A Republican from Oregon, she represents the state’s 5th congressional district and became the first Republican woman to represent Oregon in the House when she defeated Jamie McLeod-Skinner in the general election.
She was elected to city council of her native Happy Valley, Oregon, in 2004 and elected mayor in 2010 and reelected in 2014. She served as mayor until 2018.
Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto: (D-Nevada)
Lawyer and politician, Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto has served as the senior U.S. Senator from Nevada, a seat she has held since 2017. She previously served as the 32nd attorney general of Nevada from 2007 to 2015.
A graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno and Gonzaga University School of Law, she worked four years as a civil attorney in Las Vegas as well as two years as a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C.
In her first bid for congress, she defeated Republican Joe Heck in the 2016 U.S. Senate election in Nevada to replace longtime senator Harry Reid, becoming the first woman elected to represent Nevada in the Senate and the first Latina elected to serve in the upper chamber. She was reelected in 2022, after defeating Republican nominee Adam Laxalt.
Rep. Monica De La Cruz: (R-Texas) District 15
De La Cruz comes from Mexican roots as her grandmother immigrated to the U.S. as a child while her grandfather was a first-generation American, and former Navy veteran during World War II. She and her brother were ultimately single handedly raised by her mother in Brownsville, Texas.
The newcomer previously ran to represent the 15th District in 2020 but lost to her Democratic opponent, Vicente Gonzalez. In 2022, she would win the congressional seat in her second try and became the first Republican to represent the 15th district since its creation in 1903. She defeated Michelle Vallejo in the general election.
Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar: (R-Florida) District 27
Former veteran journalist and news anchor, Maria Elvira Salazar, has held an impressive career that consists of three-decades of journalism work with Spanish-language network Telemundo after serving as a news anchor for Miami-based WSBS TV. She has also worked for CNN Español and Univision.
The daughter of Cuban exiles, she was born in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood and grew up bilingual, speaking both Spanish and English. She also spent a part of her childhood in Puerto Rico.
Now a politician, she is serving as the U.S. representative for Florida's 27th congressional district. She is also a Republican assistant whip. She was the Republican nominee for Congress in 2018, before losing to Donna Shalala. She won the 2020 rematch and was sworn into the 117th United States Congress in Jan. 2021.
Rep. Veronica Escobar: (D-Texas) District 16
Incumbent Rep. Escobar, is serving her second term as U.S. representative for Texas's 16th congressional district, based in El Paso, since 2019. She succeeded Rep. Beto O’Rourke after a six year tenure in Washington. She previously served as an El Paso County commissioner from 2007 to 2011 and the El Paso county judge from 2011 until 2017.
A native of El Paso, she was born in 1969 and grew up close to the family's dairy farm with her parents and four brothers. She is a current member of the CHC. She previously ran an unsuccessful bid for Congress in the 2018 election to succeed O'Rourke.
In her re-election campaign in 2020, she ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and faced the Republican nominee, realtor Irene Armendariz-Jackson, in the general election with Escobar taking 64.7% of the vote to Armendariz-Jackson's 35.3%. She is the first woman to represent the 16th District.
Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia: (D-Texas) District 29
Lawyer and politician, Rep. Garcia has been serving as the U.S. representative for Texas's 29th congressional district since 2019, which covers much of eastern Houston. She previously represented the 6th district in the Texas Senate and was former Houston City Controller.
Born in San Diego, Texas, and raised in Palito Blanco in west central Jim Wells County, the daughter of Mexican-Americans, and the eighth of ten children. Initially a social worker, politics came in the early 1980s, when Houston Mayor Kathryn Whitmire appointed Garcia as presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System. She served for five terms under two mayors.
Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) At-Large
Rep. González-Colón is a the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in Congress. In the role of Resident Commissioner, González-Colón represents Puerto Rico as a U.S. Territory in U.S. Congress, can participate and vote in the committees on which she is assigned, introduce legislation, but does not have a final vote in the House on any bill.
Gonález-Colón was first elected as Resident Commissioner in 2016, after she joined gubernatorial candidate Ricardo Rosselló on the ticket in the primary for the New Progress Party (PNP). She won the primary easily and became the first women to ever be nominated by PNP for Resident Commissioner. Later that year, she would win the general election with 48.8% of the vote. González-Colón won reelection in 2020 with more than 41% of the vote.
In Congress, the Resident Commissioner serves on the House Natural Resources, Small Business and Veterans' Affairs committees. She is also pro-statehood for Puerto Rico and has been behind recent pushes for a new plebiscite on the island. Her first two years were also largely spent trying to get U.S. Congress to act in the face of the many natural disasters to hit Puerto Rico — such as Hurricane Maria and the earthquakes that followed.
Before being Resident Commissioner, González-Colón was first elected to Puerto Rico's House of Representatives in a 2002 Special Election, and was the first woman to be elected from San Juan's 4th District. She was also the youngest member of Puerto Rico's 14th Legislative Assembly and the youngest woman ever elected to Puerto Rico's Legislative Assembly. González-Colón would serve in that role for the next 15 years, rising to be both the Speaker of Puerto Rico's House of Representatives and Chair of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico.
Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Washington) District 3
Auto Shop owner and new face, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, was born to an immigrant father from Mexico. She and her husband own an automobile repair shop in Portland, Oregon. A fifth-generation Washingtonian, she currently serves on the House Agriculture Committee and the House Small Business Committee in the 118th Congress.
In 2016, she ran and lost out on Skamania County Commissioner and has served on the Washington State Democratic Party executive committee since 2020. She has been a member of the Underwood Soil and Water District Conservation board of supervisors since 2018.
Self-described as an independent-minded Democrat, she scored an upset victory over MAGA candidate Joe Kent in the November midterm elections, helping Democrats flip a House seat in a historically red district.
Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-New Mexico) District 3
A former public interest lawyer, Rep. Leger Fernández is the a 17th generation New Mexican, who was first elected to serve in the U.S. House in 2020 — taking the seat vacated by Ben Ray Luján, who was elected that year as New Mexico's new U.S. Senator.
As a lawyer, Leger Fernández fought and won many vital legal battles in state over everything from voting rights and tribal sovereignty, to protecting the environment. She also previously served as an appointee under the Clinton and Obama administrations and is a previous White House fellow, who worked on housing issues.
In Congress, Leger Fernández sits on the House Rules, Education and Workforce, and Natural Resources committees. She was the previous Chair of the Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples of the United States, and is now the ranking member of the newly-named Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs. The Congresswoman is also Vice Chair of Communications the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Vice Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna: (R-Florida) District 13
Instagram influencer, and conservative activist, Anna Paulina Luna, is Florida’s newest representative, serving the Sunshine State’s 13th congressional district. She was the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress from Florida.
She was born in Santa Ana, California to a mother of Mexican-American ancestry and her father of Mexican and German ancestry, including a grandfather who was born in Germany and served in their army during World War II. Her maternal great-grandfather was an American immigrant to Mexico.
Her first bid for Congress was in 2018 where she won the Republican primary, but lost to incumbent Charlie Crist in the general election. She defeated Democrat Eric Lynn in the 2022 midterm elections, a former senior advisor for Barack Obama. She received an endorsement from President Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene who campaigned for her in Florida.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis: (R-New York) District 11
New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis has been serving her native state’s 11th congressional district since 2021. Her constituency covers Staten Island and southern Brooklyn. Prior to Congress, she was a member of the New York State Assembly from 2011 to 2021.
Born in New York City, the family moved to the Staten Island neighborhood of Great Kills. Her father is a Greek immigrant and her mother from Cuba, who following the rise of long-time dictator Fidel Castro, fled the island.
Her first bid for Congress was in 2020, Malliotakis where she defeated the incumbent Democrat Max Rose. She ran for re-election last year against Max Rose in a rematch that saw to be successful, with Malliotakis taking victory on election night, taking 60.9% of the vote to Rose's 39.1%.
Rep. Grace F. Napolitano: (D-California) District 31
Veteran Representative, Graciela Flores "Grace" Napolitano, has represented California's San Gabriel Valley and other parts of Los Angeles County in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1999. She previously served in the California State Assembly and the Norwalk City Council prior to Congress.
She first represented the 34th district from 1999 to 2003, then 38th district from 2003 to 2013, as well most recently, the 32nd district from 2013 to 2023, and it is now currently numbered at 31. She was born in Brownsville, Texas to a Mexican mother from Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, and a father of Mexican heritage from north Texas.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (D-New York) District 14
AOC is one of the nations most recognizable and famous Latina figures in politics. Apart from former and current world leaders, she’s one of the most followed politicians in the world with a combined near 15 million followers on Twitter and Instagram, and arguably one of the more popular and controversial ones because of her large presence.
She has served as the U.S. representative for New York's 14th congressional district since 2019, which includes the eastern part of the Bronx, portions of north-central Queens, and Rikers Island.
Currently in her third term, she first rose to national prominence when she defeated Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent, before defeating Republican Anthony Pappas in the general elections. At 29, she was the youngest ever member to join the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rep. Delia Ramirez: (D-Illinois) District 3
Rep. Delia Ramirez made quite an introduction, defeating her Republican challenger Justin Burau in the race for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, last November. She is the first Latina to ever represent a Midwest state in Congress, and she also becomes only the third Latino to ever be elected from Illinois.
Born to Guatemalan immigrants, Ramirez’s mother crossed the border while pregnant with Delia and along with her father, had to work multiple low-wage jobs to make ends meet when they first arrived in Chicago.
Ramirez was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 4th district from 2018 to 2023, becoming the first Guatemalan American elected to the Illinois General Assembly. Her district includes the Chicago neighborhoods of East Humboldt Park, Hermosa, Bucktown, West Town, Ukrainian Village, East Village, and Logan Square.
Rep. Andrea Salinas: (D-Oregon) District 6
Rep. Salinas has always been around politics but this is her first time serving as a U.S. representative for Oregon's 6th congressional district. She previously served as the Oregon State Representative for the 38th district, which includes the City of Lake Oswego and southwestern Portland, from 2017 to 2023.
Born to a Mexican immigrant, she was born in San Mateo, California and grew up in Pleasant Hill. Her father immigrated to the US in 1950 and worked in the fields picking cotton and tomatoes as a child worker. He later served two tours in Vietnam, and was able to earn his US citizenship. He then spent the next three decades as a police officer.
Rep. Linda T. Sánchez: (D-California) District 38
Former labor lawyer and politician, Rep. Linda T. Sánchez has been serving as the U.S. representative for California's 38th congressional district since 2013. She was first elected to Congress in 2002 in California's 39th congressional district. She was the ranking member on the House Ethics Committee until 2017. And during the 114th Congress, she chaired the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Born in Orange, California, she had six other siblings, all raised by Mexican immigrant parents in Anaheim. She is the younger sister of former U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez. They are the only sisters to have served in Congress.
In 2016, she was elected by her peers as vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus for the 115th Congress, the fifth-ranking position in House Democratic leadership, and also becoming the first woman of color elected to a leadership position in history.
Rep. Norma J. Torres: (D-California) District 35
Guatemalan-American politician, Rep. Norma J. Torres has been a member of the House of Representatives for California's 35th congressional district since 2015. She was previously a member of the California State Senate representing the 35th district as well.
Born to Norma Judith Barillas in Guatemala, she was sent to the U.S. by her family when she was five. She arrived on a tourist visa and became a legal resident in her teens and gained citizenship in 1992.
She was elected to congress 2014, defeating Christina Gagnier, and was reelected in 2016, defeating Tyler Fischella. In 2018, Torres defeated Christian Valiente, and in 2020, defeated Republican Mark Cargile to remain in the House.
Rep. Lori Trahan: (D-Massachusetts) District 3
Businesswoman and politician, Rep. Lori Trahan is serving as the U.S. representative for Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district, a seat she has held since 2019. The district covers Boston's northwestern suburbs as well as her hometown of Westford. She previously served as chief of staff to Representative Marty Meehan in the state’s 5th congressional district.
Born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, she grew up with three sisters and came from a modest background with Portuguese parents. Her grandfather was from Porto, with great-grandparents going back to Brazil. Her mother is also of partial Portuguese ancestry.
Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez: (D-New York) District 7
Rep. Velazquez has been a long-time lawmaker in the U.S. House – almost 30 years – since first stepping on Capitol Hill in 1993. From New York, she first represented the 12th district from 1993 to 2013 before it was renumbered to the 7th district from 2013 to now.
Born in the town of Limones in the municipality of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, her father, Benito Velázquez Rodríguez, was a labor worker in the sugarcane fields who became a political activist and the founder of a local political party in their hometown, a huge inspiration that would determine her trajectory moving forward.
She previously chaired the Congressional Hispanic Caucus from 2008 to 2011. Velázquez is the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in the U.S. Congress. Other accomplishments include being the first Hispanic woman to serve on the NYC Council; and the first woman Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee in 1998.
She ALSO became the first woman to chair the U.S. House Committee on Small Business as well as the first Hispanic woman to chair a House standing committee.
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