Adriano de Jesús Espaillat Rodríguez (/ˌɑːdriˈɑːn ˌɛspˈjɑːt/; born September 27, 1954) is an American politician. He is the U.S. representative for New York’s 13th congressional district and the first Dominican American and first formerly illegal immigrant to ever serve in Congress.[1] He previously served in the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly.[2]

Espaillat was a ranking member of the New York Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee and chaired the Senate Latino Caucus. He represented the neighborhoods of Marble Hill, Inwood, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights, and the Upper West Side in Manhattan.

Espaillat is a Democrat. He challenged then-Representative Charles Rangel in the Democratic primaries in 2012 and 2014, eventually winning the Democratic nomination in 2016 after Rangel announced his retirement. He is the first Dominican-American member of Congress.[3]

Early life and education

Espaillat was born on September 27, 1954, in Santiago, Dominican Republic,[4][5] to Melba (née Cabral) and Ulises Espaillat. He is a great-grandson of Dominican President Ulises Espaillat.[6][7] Espaillat also has African ancestry and is of mixed AfroLatino lineage.[8] He and his family moved to the United States in 1964. After overstaying a tourist visa, the Espaillats acquired Lawful Permanent Resident Cards, also known as Green Cards, in 1965.[9]

Espaillat grew up in Washington Heights. He graduated from Bishop Dubois High School in 1974 and earned his B.S. degree in political science at Queens College in 1978.[4]

Personal life

Espaillat lives in Inwood, Manhattan. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.[9]

Espaillat married Martha Madera in 1979.[10] He has two children and is a grandfather.[11] He is a Yankees fan.[12]

Espaillat is a Catholic, but disagrees with the Church on certain issues.[13]

Earlier career

Espaillat served as the Manhattan Court Services Coordinator for the New York City Criminal Justice Agency, a nonprofit organization that provides indigent legal services and works to reduce unnecessary pretrial detention and post-sentence incarceration costs. As a state-certified conflict resolution mediator and volunteer with the Washington Heights Inwood Conflict Resolutions and Mediation Center, Espaillat helped resolve hundreds of conflicts.[14]

He later worked as Director of the Washington Heights Victims Services Community Office, an organization offering counseling and other services to families of victims of homicides and other crimes. From 1994 to 1996, Espaillat served as the Director of Project Right Start, a national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to combat substance abuse by educating the parents of preschool children.[14]

Before his election to the New York State Assembly, Espaillat was an active voice on Manhattan Community Board 12, and president of the 34th Precinct Community Council. Espaillat also served on Governor Mario Cuomo‘s Dominican-American Advisory Board from 1991 to 1993.[14]

New York State Assembly

Espaillat served in the New York State Assembly from 1997 to 2010. He was elected in 1996, defeating 16-year incumbent John Brian Murtaugh in the Democratic primary. Espaillat chaired the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, and committees on small business and children & families.

In the Assembly, Espaillat was a vocal advocate for tenants, consumers, veterans, immigrants and local businesses. He passed laws encouraging the construction and preservation of affordable housing, giving low-income day care workers the right to organize and obtain health care, and sponsored measures to improve hospital translation services. He also established a higher education scholarship fund for relatives of the victims of American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed on November 12, 2001.[15] Despite national Republican and conservative criticism, Espaillat strongly supported efforts in 2007 to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.[16]

After a wave of assaults and murders against livery cab drivers in 2000 that left over 10 dead, Espaillat passed legislation strengthening penalties for violent crimes against livery drivers and enabled their families to receive New York State Crime Victims Board funding. Livery cabs work in less affluent neighborhoods of New York that typically lack access to yellow cabs.[17]

Espaillat took legal action against power utility Con Edison after equipment failures led to a two-day blackout in Upper Manhattan in July 1999 that caused financial damage to restaurants, bodegas and other small businesses.[18] Con Edison subsequently agreed to invest an additional $100 million in Upper Manhattan electrical infrastructure at no cost to ratepayers and was required to refund customers billed for expenses related to the blackout.[19]

New York State Senate

Office on Columbus Avenue

Elections

2010

Espaillat ran for State Senate in 2010 after incumbent Eric Schneiderman announced his campaign for New York Attorney General. Espaillat received more than 50% of the vote in a four-way Democratic party. In 2012, Espaillat defeated then-Assemblyman Guillermo Linares 62% – 38% in the Democratic primary.[20]

2014

After losing to Charles Rangel in the Democratic primary for Congress, Espaillat announced candidacy for reelection to his State Senate seat, facing former City Councilman Robert Jackson.[21] He was reelected with 50.3% of the vote to Jackson’s 42.7%.[22]

Tenure

In 2011, Espaillat led the fight to safeguard and strengthen rent regulation for over 1 million affordable housing apartments that was set to expire that year.[23] While tenant protections had been weakened in the past, the agreement reached that year made it more difficult to convert affordable housing to market rate and created a new Tenant Protection Unit within the state’s housing agency.

Espaillat also passed legislation increasing enforcement against businesses that sell alcohol to minors and authored the Notary Public Advertising Act, to crack down on public notaries who prey on vulnerable immigrants by offering fraudulent legal services.[24] He voted in favor of marriage equality legislation in 2011.[25]

State Senate committee assignments

  • Housing, Construction & Community Development (Ranking Member)
  • Environmental Conservation
  • Higher Education
  • Codes
  • Rules
  • Judiciary
  • Finance
  • Insurance

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

2012

In 2012, Espaillat ran in the Democratic primary for New York’s 13th congressional district, in a crowded field that included 42-year incumbent Charles Rangel. The seat had long been a majority-black district, but redistricting after the 2010 census made it a 55% Hispanic-majority district.[26]

In the Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic district—Rangel beat Espaillat, 44% to 42%, a margin of less than 1,000 votes. Espaillat placed first in the Bronx section of the district and parts of Upper Manhattan.[27]

The election was marked by reports that Spanish-speaking voters were either turned away at the polls or forced to use affidavit ballots.[28] The New York City Board of Elections was also sharply criticized for its poor handling of the election and subsequent legal proceedings.[29]

2014

In 2014, Espaillat ran against Rangel again, losing for the second consecutive time, 47.7% to 43.1%.

2016

In November 2015, Espaillat announced he would give up his State Senate seat to run for Congress again. He was running for an open seat; Rangel had announced in 2014 that he would not seek a 22nd term in 2016.[30] In the Democratic primary, he narrowly defeated his nearest challenger, state assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, with 36% of the vote. This made him an overwhelming favorite in the general election, which he won with 89% of the vote.

When Espaillat took office on January 3, 2017, he became only the third person to represent what is now the 13th in 72 years. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. held the district from 1945 to 1971; Rangel had won the seat after defeating Powell in the 1970 primary. The district had been numbered as the 22nd district from 1945 to 1953, the 16th from 1953 to 1963, the 18th from 1963 to 1973, the 19th from 1973 to 1983, the 16th from 1983 to 1993, the 15th from 1993 to 2013, and has been the 13th since 2013.

Tenure

Espaillat with President Joe Biden and Thomas Suozzi in 2021

Espaillat serves as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the Select Committee on Small Business. He is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and was appointed chair of the CHC Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing.

In August 2017, after the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Espaillat and Pennsylvania Representative Dwight E. Evans introduced legislation banning Confederate monuments on federal property.[31]

Espaillat has been critical of Brazil‘s president Jair Bolsonaro. In March 2019 he and 29 other Democratic lawmakers wrote Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter that read in part, “Since the election of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as president, we have been particularly alarmed by the threat Bolsonaro’s agenda poses to the LGBTQ+ community and other minority communities, women, labor activists, and political dissidents in Brazil.”[32][33]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Guns

In March 2021, Espaillat and Representative Brad Schneider proposed legislation to close the Ghost guns loophole in an effort to curb gun violence.[40][41]

Immigration

Espaillat visited an immigration detention facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, vowing that the U.S. needs to do a better job of connecting migrant children detained at the southern border with their families.[42] The first former illegal immigrant in Congress, Espaillat claimed he overstayed a tourist visa in the 1960s and is a staunch supporter of the American Dream and Promise Act.[43]

Israel

In 2019, Espaillat supported the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, an effort that called for criminal penalties of up to $1 million for companies that support the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions Movement against Israel.[44] In August 2019, he released a statement condemning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to deny Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar entry into Israel.[45]

Electoral history

New York City Council

1991 New York City Council District 10 election[46][47]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Guillermo Linares 1,843 30.06
DemocraticMaría A. Luna1,58525.85
DemocraticAdriano Espaillat1,55025.28
DemocraticHarry C. Fotopoulos86014.03
DemocraticRaynard Edwards2944.80
Total votes6,132 100.00
General election
Democratic Guillermo Linares 4,901 84.79
ConservativeApolinar Trinidad4607.96
LiberalAdriano Espaillat4197.25
Total votes5,780 100.00
Democratic hold

New York State Assembly

1996 New York State Assembly District 72 election[48][49]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat 3,604 52.95
DemocraticJohn Brian Murtaugh (incumbent)3,20347.05
Total votes6,807 100.00
General election
Democratic Adriano Espaillat 15,098 81.01
LiberalJohn Brian Murtaugh (incumbent)2,21611.89
RepublicanHector Ramirez1,1746.30
IndependenceTheo Maltas1500.81
Total votes18,638 100.00
Democratic hold
1998 New York State Assembly District 72 election[50][51]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 4,323 64.66
DemocraticIsabel Evangelista2,36335.34
Total votes6,686 100.00
General election
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 12,387 92.16
RepublicanFaisal M. Sipra7935.90
IndependenceElizabeth Elliotte2611.94
Total votes13,441 100.00
Democratic hold
2000 New York State Assembly District 72 election[52]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 20,724 92.05
RepublicanNilda Luz Rexach1,6107.15
ConservativeDavid J. Brache1790.80
Total votes22,513 100.00
Democratic hold
2002 New York State Assembly District 72 election[53][54]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 5,652 79.85
DemocraticRubén Dario Vargas1,42620.15
Total votes7,078 100.00
General election
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 8,820 85.03
RepublicanNilda Luz Rexach1,32012.73
IndependenceJose Reyes2332.25
Total votes10,373 100.00
Democratic hold
2004 New York State Assembly District 72 election[55]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 22,230 91.85
RepublicanMartin Chicon1,9738.15
Total votes24,203 100.00
Democratic hold
2006 New York State Assembly District 72 election[56][57]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 3,975 68.15
DemocraticFrancesca Castellanos1,15619.82
DemocraticMiguel Estrella70212.04
Total votes5,833 100.00
General election
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 14,176 90.02
RepublicanMartin Chicon1,1097.04
CoalitionFrancesca Castellanos4632.94
Total votes15,748 100.00
Democratic hold
2008 New York State Assembly District 72 election[58][59]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 4,542 54.06
DemocraticMiguel Martinez3,86045.94
Total votes8,402 100.00
General election
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 26,712 94.15
RepublicanBill Buran1,6615.85
Total votes28,373 100.00
Democratic hold

New York State Senate

2010 New York State Senate District 31 election[60][61]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat 13,499 52.57
DemocraticMark Levine9,69637.76
DemocraticAnna R. Lewis1,9427.56
DemocraticMiosotis Munoz5412.11
Total votes25,678 100.00
General election
Democratic Adriano Espaillat 50,007 83.88
RepublicanStylo A. Sapaskis6,38810.72
GreenAnn J. Roos2,1583.62
ConservativeRaphael M. Klapper9641.62
independent (politician)Mark Levine (write-in)590.10
Write-in440.07
Total votes59,620 100.00
Democratic hold
2012 New York State Senate District 31 election[62][63]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 11,138 61.29
DemocraticGuillermo Linares6,92738.12
Write-in1070.59
Total votes18,172 100.00
General election
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 84,944 91.11
RepublicanMartin Chicon8,1848.78
Write-in1060.11
Total votes93,234 100.00
Democratic hold
2014 New York State Senate District 31 election[64][65]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 10,439 49.89
DemocraticRobert Jackson9,01943.10
DemocraticLuis M. Tejada1,4667.01
Total votes20,924 100.00
General election
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 37,089 99.19
Write-in3010.81
Total votes37,390 100.00
Democratic hold

U.S. House of Representatives

2012 New York’s 13th congressional district election[66]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Charles Rangel (incumbent) 19,187 44.45
DemocraticAdriano Espaillat18,10141.93
DemocraticClyde Edward Williams, Jr.4,2669.88
DemocraticJoyce S. Johnson1,0182.36
DemocraticCraig Schley5981.39
Total votes43,170 100.00
2014 New York’s 13th congressional district election[67]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Charles Rangel (incumbent) 23,799 47.76
DemocraticAdriano Espaillat21,47743.10
DemocraticMichael A. Walrond, Jr.3,9547.94
DemocraticYolanda Garcia5971.20
Total votes49,827 100.00
2016 New York’s 13th congressional district election[68][69]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat 16,377 35.87
DemocraticKeith L. T. Wright15,52834.01
DemocraticClyde Edward Williams, Jr.5,00310.96
DemocraticAdam Clayton Powell IV2,9866.54
DemocraticGuillermo Linares2,5045.49
DemocraticSuzan Johnson Cook2,3415.13
DemocraticMichael Gallagher4350.95
DemocraticSam Sloan2270.50
DemocraticYohanny Caceres1160.25
Write-in1380.30
Total votes45,655 100.00
General election
Democratic Adriano Espaillat 207,194 88.64
RepublicanRobert A. Evans, Jr.13,1295.62
IndependenceRobert A. Evans, Jr.2,9601.27
TotalRobert A. Evans, Jr.16,0896.88
GreenDaniel Vila Rivera8,2483.53
independent (politician)Scott L. Fenstermaker1,8770.80
Write-in3290.14
Total votes233,737 100.00
Democratic hold
2018 New York’s 13th congressional district election[70]
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticAdriano Espaillat171,34189.85
Working FamiliesAdriano Espaillat8,6944.56
Total Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 180,035 94.41
RepublicanJineea Butler9,5355.00
ReformJineea Butler7330.38
TotalJineea Butler10,2685.38
Write-in3850.20
Total votes190,688 100.00
Democratic hold
2020 New York’s 13th congressional district election[71][72]
Primary election
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 46,066 58.94
DemocraticJames Felton Keith19,79925.33
DemocraticRamon Rodriguez11,85915.17
Write-in4340.56
Total votes78,158 100.00
General election
DemocraticAdriano Espaillat202,91679.46
Working FamiliesAdriano Espaillat28,92511.33
Total Adriano Espaillat (incumbent) 231,841 90.79
RepublicanLovelynn “Love” Gwinn19,8297.77
ConservativeChristopher Morris-Perry3,2951.29
Write-in4050.16
Total votes255,370 100.00
Democratic hold

See also

References

  1. ^ Moreno, Carolina (2016-11-09). “Adriano Espaillat Becomes First Formerly Illegal Immigrant In Congress”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
  2. ^ “El poder politico de Nueva York tambien honró el dia de Duarte” (in Spanish). La Nación Dominicana. February 1, 2010. Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
  3. ^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2017-01-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b “Adriano Espaillat: Biography”. New York State Senate. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  5. ^ “Legislative Preview: Meet The New Members”. The Capitol. Manhattan Media. January 6, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ “De Washington Heitghts a Washington DC, Espaillat rompe 70 años de poder afroamericano” (in Spanish). New York: El Nuevo Diario. 1 July 2016. Archived from the original on 9 November 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  7. ^ Eligon, John (18 June 2012). “Running for the House on Pride in His Roots, and Pure Energy”. The New York Times. Retrieved 9 November 2016. Mr. Espaillat says he is a descendant of one of the Dominican Republic’s most notable political figures — Ulises Francisco Espaillat, who held the presidency for about five months in 1876.
  8. ^ “Congressman Adriano Espaillat Recognizes Black History Month”. Congressman Adriano Espaillat. February 1, 2018.
  9. ^ a b admin (2017-03-31). “Rep. Adriano Espaillat is a symbol of opposition to Donald Trump. But will he get anything done?” (Text). CSNY. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  10. ^ “Profile: Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)”.
  11. ^ “About Congressmember Adriano Espaillat”. 3 December 2012.
  12. ^ “One-On-One With Congressman Adriano Espaillat”.
  13. ^ “Catholic Members of Congress Release Statement of Principles”. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. 2021-06-18. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  14. ^ a b c “Senator Adriano Espaillat”. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  15. ^ “Assembly Task Force on New Americans”. 2002 Report.
  16. ^ Hakim, Danny (October 28, 2007). “Spitzer Tries New Tack on Immigrant Licenses”. New York Times.
  17. ^ Fountain, John (July 13, 2000). “Stricter Sentences for Livery-Cab Crimes”. New York Times.
  18. ^ Wald, Matthew (July 21, 2000). “Nuclear Agency Delays Reopening of Con Ed’s Indian Point 2 Plant”. New York Times.
  19. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (August 9, 2000). “Pataki Signs Bill Requiring Con Ed Rebate”. New York Times.
  20. ^ “Espaillat defeats Linares in State Senate primary”. Columbia Spectator. September 14, 2012. Archived from the original on December 21, 2012.
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  22. ^ “Espaillat re-elected to State Senate in slight majority over Jackson – Columbia Daily Spectator”. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  23. ^ Lombardi, Frank (April 14, 2011). “Freshman state Sen. Espaillat going to bat for more than 1M tenants from rent regulation changes”. Daily News. New York.
  24. ^ McHugh, Brendan (July 6, 2011). “Smiling Dynamo recounts rookie year”. Bronx Press Politics.
  25. ^ Zanoni, Carla (June 8, 2011). “Latino Politicians Call on Albany to Pass Marriage Equality Legislation”. DNAinfo. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015.
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  27. ^ “Board of Elections Results” (PDF).
  28. ^ Chen, David (July 9, 2012). “Rangel’s Opponent Gives Up And Will Halt Court Challenge”. New York Times.
  29. ^ Gonzalez, Juan (July 6, 2012). “Troubling actions by Board of Elex members”. Daily News. New York.
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  31. ^ Marcos, Cristina (17 August 2017). “Dems unveil bill to ban Confederate monuments on federal property”. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  32. ^ “Brazil’s far-right president tweeted out a pornographic video to condemn Carnival”. Vox. March 6, 2019.
  33. ^ “Reps. Susan Wild and Ro Khanna Urge Sec. of State Pompeo to Condemn Human Rights Abuses in Brazil”. www.wild.house.gov. 6 March 2019.
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  36. ^ Committee on Appropriations. “Legislative Branch”. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
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  42. ^ Caldwell, Julian. “Rep. Espaillat on His Visit to the Border: ‘We Must Do Better’. Spectrum News New York 1. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  43. ^ Nelson, Steven (18 March 2021). “House OKs path to citizenship for millions, including ‘Dreamers’. New York Post. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  44. ^ Shabazz, Saeed. “Activists: Israel Anti-Boycott Act unconstitutional”. New York Amsterdam News. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
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External links

New York State Assembly
Preceded by

Member of the New York Assembly
from the 72nd district

1997–2010
Succeeded by

New York State Senate
Preceded by

Member of the New York Senate
from the 31st district

2011–2016
Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York’s 13th congressional district

2017–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
255th
Succeeded by