U.S. House, Washington 7
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal emigrated to this country at age 16 from India by herself. It took her 18 years to get her citizenship. After stints in finance and global health and following the aftermath of 9/11, she saw how her Sikh and Arab friends and neighbors were being targeted. Jayapal was new to politics, but she wanted to do something to defend them, and so she hastily assembled a press conference with the Governor and leaders to denounce the wave of hate and Islamophobia we were seeing.
From there, Jayapal formed the organization Hate Free Zone, now OneAmerica, which became the largest immigrant rights organization in Washington state. They sued the Bush administration and won and pushed hard with their allies for comprehensive immigration reform, even getting it passed in the Senate in 2013. After 15 years of activism, including being recognized by President Obama a “Champion of Change,” Jayapal realized that we need change-makers on the inside, too.
She ran for State Senate and won, becoming the only woman of color in that chamber. Today she is the first Indian-American woman in Congress, the only person of color in her state’s Congressional delegation, and the first woman to represent Washington’s 7th District. Her track record and campaigns speak for themselves including her leadership as the First Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. At every turn, Jayapal has sought to empower women, people of color, and young people – making sure that marginalized groups have a seat at the table and collaborating with grassroots movements.
Jayapal is running for re-election for Washington’s 7th District. This is her home, where she had lived for the past two decades. She is consistently moved by the work of people in her district – the best district in the country – and she is committed to acting on their concerns, working to improve their lives, and building their movement for change locally and across the country. She believes every citizen deserves to know what is happening in Congress. That is the essence of people-powered politics – “making sure that all people get a say in the decisions that impact their lives.”