6 Prominent Hispanic Politicians in Congress

First Latina elected in the Senate

6 Prominent Hispanic Politicians in Congress

America is a melting pot of immigrants from all over the world working hard to find success in this country. The U.S. Census Bureau states that as of July 1, 2015, people of Hispanic origin represent 17.6 percent of the U.S. population. The following six Hispanic Americans have made significant political contributions and provided excellent service to citizens of the United States.

Catherine Cortez Masto

Catherine Cortez Masto is a member of the Democratic party and a junior United States Senator from Nevada, the state where she has served for the majority of her career. An accomplished attorney, Senator Cortez Masto worked as Assistant County Manager for Clark County and served four years as a federal criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington D.C. In her tenure as Nevada’s Attorney General from 2007 to 2015, she worked with law enforcement and community advocates to protect the rights of families. She fought against the widespread use and distribution of methamphetamines in her state, created a senior protection unit to prosecute those who abuse seniors, strengthened laws preventing sex trafficking and violence against women and initiated the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force to protect middle-class consumers and homeowners.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz was elected the 34th junior U.S. Senator from Texas in 2012. Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada and grew up in Texas. His father Rafael Bienvenido Cruz y Díaz was born in Cuba, came to the United States in the 1950’s to attend college and is currently a Christian pastor in Dallas. After graduating from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Senator Cruz began his career as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, becoming the first Hispanic to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.
His political career started when he served as a policy adviser to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000. Before becoming a senator, Ted Cruz also served as the Director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, the Associate Deputy Attorney General and Solicitor General of Texas.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio was born and raised in Miami, Florida to parents who immigrated from Cuba in 1956. Rubio received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami Law School and became a City Commissioner for West Miami. In 2000, Rubio was elected to the Florida House of Representatives first as a representative, as a Majority Leader in 2003 and Speaker in 2006. As the junior U.S. Senator to Florida, from 2011 to the present, Rubio has worked on a handful of legislative committees, including the Special Committee on Aging, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Illeana Ros-Lehtinen

Illeana Ros-Lehtinen is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida’s 27th Congressional District. She was born in Havana, Cuba and with her family forced to flee to Miami in order to escape Fidel Castro’s communist regime. Ros-Lehtinen began her career as a certified teacher in Florida and, in the early 1980’s, became the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the Florida State House of Representatives and eventually the Florida Senate. She also became the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress in 1989. Having earned a Doctorate of Education from the University of Miami, Ros-Lehtinen has focused her service on improving the lives of families in South Florida, strengthening the Head Start program, which provides childhood education, health and nutrition to low-income children, and supporting legislation to increase student financial aid availability.

Linda Sánchez

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Linda Sánchez was born in Anaheim, California. A graduate from the UCLA School of Law, Sánchez has dedicated her career serving working families in California. She practiced law in a private practice before working for the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), serving as the Executive Secretary-Treasurer for the Orange County Central Labor Council and joining the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 441. From 2003 to 2013, Sánchez was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 38th congressional district, serving with her sister Loretta, congresswoman from the 47th district of California. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

Carlos Curbelo

Carlos Curbelo grew up in Miami, Florida to parents who fled Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba in the 1960’s. He graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He began his career as an entrepreneur starting his own public and media relations firm. In 2009, Curbelo entered public service when he was appointed State Director for U.S. Senator George LeMieux and later to the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPA). In 2014, Curbelo was elected the U.S. representative from Florida’s 26th congressional district, a position he currently holds.

These six Hispanic Americans have risen to high positions in U.S. Congress. As children of immigrants and immigrants themselves, they have worked hard to overcome challenges and gain respect from peers and American citizens. Their career paths and dedication serve as an inspiration to all students of public administration about to embark on their own professional journey.

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If you seek to change the world on a local, national, or global level, the University of San Francisco is a great place to start. By learning more about the University of San Francisco Online Master of Public Administration (MPA), you will be taking an important first step toward pursuing your professional goals and commitment to social justice. Our program is designed for professionals who want to become effective managers and civic leaders who effect change through policy management and advocacy.

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