A human rights attorney and daughter of immigrants
Jessica Cisneros is a human rights attorney and daughter of immigrants running for Congress to fight for hardworking south Texas families. Jessica was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, the community she is proud to call home. Her parents immigrated from Mexico when Jessica’s older sister needed urgent medical care that was only available in the United States, and Jessica’s father picked fruit and started his own trucking company to make ends meet. “My parents sacrificed so much just for their kids to be happy here,” she has said. “Having that shared experience of growing up here, on two sides of the border, led me to think constantly about what immigrants experience.” Jessica learned at a young age that the rules of our immigration system and our economy are not written to support families like hers, and she made a commitment to become an advocate for families like her own and to protect the rights of immigrants and working people. After graduating from high school as valedictorian, Jessica earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and her law degree from the University of Texas Law School, where she specialized in immigration law. After law school, she began a fellowship that gave her the opportunity to represent people who were detained as their cases went through the immigration system. “I thought: Finally, this is what I have been waiting for,” Jessica has said. “I was so ready to use that experience to help people who look like me and my parents.” Her passion and skills quickly ran into systemic barriers to justice that led her to reevaluate her approach to service. “I began facing the cold reality that it doesn’t matter how great a case you present,” Jessica has said. “I realized that if the laws are the problem, then I am going to have to go to Congress to fix that.” A first-time candidate, she is stepping up to fight for her community in Washington.
A courageous leader fighting for south Texas working families
Jessica is running to expand economic opportunity for the working families of her community, and she has seen firsthand her parents’ struggle to keep a business afloat as policies in Washington only seemed to benefit the biggest corporations. As a millennial with significant student debt from attending a public university, Jessica knows firsthand how high the barriers to educational opportunity are in Texas and across the country. “That's the story of so many other American students,” she has said. “We're one trillion dollars in debt, and the high interest rates are incredible. We walk out with so much debt that it's basically a mortgage.” In Congress, she will fight tirelessly make higher education affordable for all hardworking students. Jessica interned for her Representative, Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar as a college student, and, while learning about the legislative process, she learned what work was left undone. “I noticed his silence on a lot of things I care about: women’s rights, poverty, health care,” she has said. “People I know with diabetes have to go to Nuevo Laredo for medications because it’s so expensive.” Against the interests of the community he serves, Cuellar has voted to fund the border wall, received donations from the Koch brothers, been given an “A” rating by the National Rifle Association, and co-sponsored anti-abortion legislation. Jessica is running to bring new leadership to her community. “South Texas can't wait,” she has said. “We need change now.”
An opportunity to elect a champion for hardworking south Texans
Jessica is challenging Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, an eight-term incumbent who has repeatedly failed to stand up for the Texans he was elected to serve. “Texas deserves better, and they need somebody that's going to be championing the interests of people that are here and not rich and powerful special interests like ExxonMobil, the NRA, and the Koch brothers,” she has said. This district has never before elected a woman to Congress, and Jessica is poised to be the first — “which is especially important because votes against women's health have devastating consequences for women down here,” she notes. Jessica is running a strong grassroots campaign that has earned her both local and national endorsements, and she has what it takes to win. Let’s show her the full support of the EMILY’s List community and help elect this champion for south Texas working families to Congress.