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U.S. Representative Nanette D. Barragan elected as the new Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
U.S. Representative Nanette D. Barragan elected as the new Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Photo: Greg Nash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images.

U.S. Representative Nanette D. Barragan elected as the new Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

The California Rep. raised by immigrant parents will now oversee issues and policies that impact the U.S. Latino community.

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On Thursday, Dec. 15,  U.S. Representative for California’s 44th Congressional District Nanette D. Barragán, was elected as the new Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the national legislative service organization of the U.S. House of Representatives that voices and advances issues facing the Latino community nationally and internationally, first founded in 1976. 

“I am incredibly honored to be elected by my colleagues to serve as the 25th Chair of Congressional Hispanic Caucus,” said Barragán.  “Our largest Caucus ever will continue to be a leading voice for Latinos everywhere. As Chair, I plan to elevate our Members and the priorities they have for their communities.” 

The California Representative 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 will replace fellow California U.S. Representative Dr. Raul Ruiz, who was first elected in Dec. 2020. 

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus applauds our Members elected to leadership positions. As a strong, strategic, and effective CHC organization, we will remain laser-focused on helping lead Hispanic communities forward,” said Ruiz. “Next Congress, we will have our largest, 42-Member caucus in history, and a record nine new CHC Members. We look forward to our collective work as we leverage our powerful Hispanic voices to pass legislation and resources that benefit communities across the country.”

The other new faces on the leadership team for the 118th Congress are Deputy Chair Rep. Adriano Espaillat, Vice Chair of Policy Rep. Darren Soto, Vice Chair of Member Engagement Rep. Tony Cárdenas, Vice Chair of Communications Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, Whip Rep. Sylvia Garcia, Vice Chair of Diversity and Inclusion Rep.-Elect Gabe Vasquez, and Freshman Representative Rep.-Elect Andrea Salinas. 

The youngest of 11 siblings born to Mexican immigrants in Harbor City, in Torrance, California, where a big Latino and multicultural population exists, Barragán was influenced by her humble surroundings that first introduced her to caring for issues related to immigration reform, environmental justice, health justice, the economy, and affordable accessible education. 

Her father was a local TV repairman and her mother, with only a third grade education, cleaned homes, and worked in factories to make ends meet. From her parents, she learned the important values of hard work, and took that with her throughout the rest of her life, which included getting an undergraduate degree from UCLA and her Juris Doctor from USC’s Gould School of Law.

She began her early career in public service in the late 1990s, where she helped in the outreach efforts for African-Americans in the Office of Public Liaison for the Clinton White House and also worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that were heavily involved in fixing the racial health disparities and discrimination people faced then, and still do. 

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 the coastal Southern California city. In her time on City Council, she fought for environmental justice which included a successful bout against a powerful oil company. 

Barragán practiced law for over 10 years and prior that was an extern to Justice Carlos Moreno of the California Supreme Court and during a time at the Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation, she fought for the many low-income families in the area being priced out of their homes with the rising cost of living. 

It was not until 2016 that she decided to take her efforts on a national scale and ran for Congress with an agenda she had spent almost two decades fighting for. 

Along with now being elected Chair of the Hispanic Caucus, she is also a member of the Progressive Caucus. She serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security and also serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 

“I will continue to build on the foundations of our former Chairs and work to create an equitable immigration system, improve access to healthcare in Latino communities, address the climate crisis, and increase Latino representation at the highest levels of government, para toda nuestra gente,” Barragán concluded in her statement.

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