Jessica is committed to serving her community and fighting for justice.
No family should have to go into Mexico to receive safe and affordable medical treatment, and no one should die from not being able to afford care. In South Texas, when faced with high medical costs, we support each other by doing plate sales and selling raffle tickets. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 24% of us in TX-28 didn’t have health insurance, leaving our community particularly vulnerable to the global public health crisis. The average family with health coverage is spending $12,000 out of pocket on health care premiums. This is unacceptable.
Congressman Cuellar voted to weaken the Affordable Care Act, reducing the number of workers eligible for coverage and making long-term and comprehensive care more expensive. In Congress, I will fight to ensure that health care is a right, not a privilege. That’s why I support single-payer, Medicare For All which would insure every American with comprehensive health care – eliminating premiums and deductibles and expanding coverage to include dental, hearing, vision, and mental health, while lowering overall costs to families, small businesses, and government.
I also believe women and families deserve access to comprehensive family planning resources and contraception. People on the border shouldn’t be forced to go into Mexico to receive health care services like mammograms and pap smears. I firmly believe in every person’s right to choose and make decisions about their own lives and their own bodies, not our government – or men like Henry Cuellar.
I’m an immigration and human rights attorney who grew up on the border, the daughter of Mexican immigrants. During my career, I specialized in representing people in immigration court as they faced deportation proceedings while detained. I also participated in a groundbreaking program that became the first in the nation public defender model to provide the right to counsel for people facing detained immigration proceedings. While in law school, I served as a Pro Bono Scholar and worked with the faculty to create the Women in Immigration Detention Assistance Project, which assisted asylum seekers at the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas.
At Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and the Asylum Defense Project in Laredo, Texas, Jessica worked on family detention cases, helped immigrants and asylum seekers who were affected by Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, and assured due process for families who missed their immigration court hearings because they were kidnapped. As the supervising attorney at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Educates and Legal Services (RAICES), Jessica helped establish the foundation for the public defender model for detained people facing proceedings in her hometown of Laredo.
Congressman Cuellar voted to fund Donald Trump’s wall twice, and was the only Democrat to support extending the amount of time immigrant children could be detained. Cuellar continues to advocate for the militarization of border communities. Funded by for-profit detention centers, Henry Cuellar pushed back on immigration reform under the Biden administration, instead choosing to side with Republicans and fueling harmful, far-right rhetoric about immigrants in the United States. I support a pathway to citizenship for our undocumented brothers and sisters, revamping the visa system, strengthening family reunification, and creating a humane border and immigration policy by scrapping disastrous laws like the 1996 IIRIRA bill. As a removal defense attorney, I’ve seen the cruelty of our immigration courts and detention centers firsthand – which is why I’m an advocate for an independent immigration court system that would not be subject to the whim of any administration. I’m ready to use my experience and legal expertise to propose legislation to create a just and humane immigration system.
Texas has some of the most oppressive abortion laws in the country. Governor Abbott recently signed into law two of the most extreme anti-abortion laws. One bans abortion as early as six weeks, before many people even know they’re pregnant, and another that would outlaw abortion if Roe v Wade is overturned in the Supreme Court of the United States, with no exceptions for rape or incest. With the future of Roe v Wade on the line, we need a representative in Congress who will fight to codify Roe by passing legislation in Congress to ensure that all people have unfettered access to abortion care and repeal the Hyde Amendment to make abortion more affordable and accessible.
Reproductive justice is also an economic justice issue. Quality reproductive health care, including access to abortion, is essential to economic security – especially for low-income and women of color, who face more roadblocks in order to access contraception. If all state level abortion restrictions were eliminated, over 500,000 more women would enter the workforce and annual earnings for women would increase by more than $100 billion.
Texas also has the highest maternal mortality rates and in Laredo, we have abnormally high C-section rates due to a lack of preventative healthcare. When we fight for racial and economic justice, we must also fight for a reproductive justice framework that includes bodily autonomy, STI prevention and care, prenatal and pregnancy care, safe housing, and economic security as a fundamental human right.
Texas has the lowest voter turnout and the most restrictive voting laws in the country. Voter ID laws, gerrymandering, long lines at the polls, and polling place relocations are all barriers to voting rooted in a long history of efforts to suppress the votes of immigrants and people of color. We need to reimagine our voting system. I support the For The People Act, which would improve processes determining how people register to vote, how ballots are cast, and how states conduct elections. The bill also allows 16 and 17 year-olds to preregister to vote and restores voting rights for people charged with felonies who have completed their sentences.
The For The People Act helps prevent gerrymandering, requires states to limit wait times at polling places to 30 minutes on Election Day, limits how states can purge their voter rolls, requires seven days notice before elections for voters whose polling places have changed, and more.
It’s time for the substantive democracy reform we need to end voter suppression and ensure fair elections in America.
Even before the pandemic, access to health care in our community was scarce. Nearly a quarter of us here in TX-28 are uninsured. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan delivered $1400 survival checks to Americans, expanded healthcare coverage throughout the pandemic, and reduced poverty by one-third, but there’s still more work to be done. We need more Democrats in Congress who will fight for direct relief that doesn’t discriminate based on immigration status.
We need monthly $2000 survival checks for everyone, immediate economic relief for small businesses, fair wages, vaccines for teachers, cancellations of student debt, and immediate medicare enrollment.
My parents came to this country before I was born and started off as farmworkers. My father transitioned into the trucking industry 30 years ago and has been a truck driver ever since. As a child, I watched as my parents, neighbors, and too many members of my community worked long hours and still struggle to get by. I remember the stress of living paycheck to paycheck, a struggle so many families in our district continue to face today. In Congress I will be a true champion for the working people of our district, which is why I’ve advocated for a federal $15/hour minimum wage indexed to inflation since day one.
I know that our country is strongest when we have a strong, vibrant middle class and everyone has an equal opportunity to live a meaningful life. We need strong labor laws that allow workers to negotiate for proper pay, safe working conditions, and the benefits they deserve. I will proudly advocate for the power of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Unlike Congressman Cuellar – who was the only Democrat that voted against the PRO Act – I support the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act which takes critical steps toward ensuring workplace fairness and strengthening unions. I also support closing tax loopholes that encourage jobs and investments to be outsourced.
I will fight for increased federal investment in public services across the board; from public transportation, to education, public health, and environmental protection. Many areas of TX-28 lack basic infrastructure, and I will wholeheartedly support federal legislation that directs additional resources to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and creates good-paying jobs for our district. I also oppose privatization schemes that reduce the quality of services and eliminate middle-class jobs here in Texas.
In Congress, I’ll fight to make sure our families and our seniors are taken care of. I know the lack of a federal paid leave program disadvantages marginalized groups, leads to lower worker incomes, and often prevents caregivers from remaining in the workforce. According to the OECD, the United States is the only member country that still fails to require employers to provide any paid parental leave, which puts new parents – particularly new mothers – at a disadvantage. This is especially damaging for families of color who tend to have fewer existing resources and assets to draw on when forced to take unpaid leave. According to BLS, only 38 percent of Latino workers have paid sick time, compared with 60 percent of white workers. I support at least 12 weeks of paid universal family and medical leave and at least 7 days of paid sick leave.
I also support efforts to expand social security benefits and make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes to help secure Social Security for future generations by eliminating the Social Security “tax cap.” I will always protect Social Security and Medicare, and I’ll stand up to efforts to privatize Social Security and cut Medicare benefits.
As an immigration and human rights attorney, I’ve seen how our immigration system fails to support the LGBTQ+ community, especially LGBTQ+ immigrants. I will use my position in Congress to advocate for more LGBTQ-informed medical treatment at the border and fight for the passage of the Equality Act. I also fully believe that gender-affirming procedures and treatments should be covered for any transgender individual who chooses them through Medicare for All.
As a woman of faith, I oppose efforts that allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a justification for discrimination and am looking forward to being a leading voice on this issue to show that prejudice has no place in our policies or our faith. Everyone deserves federally-protected equality when it comes to housing, education, health care, public spaces, and employment, and I am prepared to fight for this legislation at every level.
Gun violence in our country is an epidemic. I will challenge the normalization of tragic loss caused by gun violence by changing laws and closing loopholes to keep guns out of the hands of those at the highest risk of violence. Gun violence has touched our district too, and polling shows that more and more Latinx Texans support strong gun safety legislation. Our community experienced heartbreak when we lost 26 of our own in the senseless Sutherland Spring tragedy. Although not in our district, the El Paso mass shooting that took the lives of 22 people shocked our community and all Latinx people living along the border.
South Texans know that the second amendment and supporting common sense gun legislation are not mutually exclusive. We need to make our communities and our schools safer by instituting more background checks and banning bump stocks, high capacity magazines and weapons of war. I will always put the safety of our community first, and unlike my opponent, I pledge not to take a dime from the NRA or the gun lobby.
We have a moral obligation to ensure our veterans have the resources they need as they transition back into civilian life. That means guaranteeing every veteran high-quality, timely health care, housing assistance, and access to higher education or vocational training. I believe in fully funding the VA to ensure the VHA is the primary source of care for our nation’s veterans, and I oppose all efforts to privatize the VA. It is critical that we fight to provide urgent, comprehensive health care to our veterans here in Texas’ 28th district and provide access to mental health resources. With the nearest full-service 24/7 hospital in San Antonio hundreds of miles away from Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley, we’ve lost too many aging veterans who simply couldn’t make it in time to receive treatment. Our communities deserve a full-service VA hospital.
Climate change is a local, national, and global issue that cannot be underestimated. When hundreds of Texans died during the freeze and subsequent power failure, we saw firsthand that Texas’s power grid is not equipped to endure the climate crisis. I know that our future and the next generation’s future is dependent on bold leaders who will step up to defend our planet. As climate change continues to worsen and threaten our health, safety, and prosperity, we see the global effects from our community right here in South Texas. Unfortunately, Congressman Cuellar has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the fossil fuel industry during his career and has consistently supported policies that roll back protections that keep our water drinkable, our air breathable, and our communities safe from environmental threats.
I support a Green New Deal because the way we address climate change needs to be as aggressive as the threat it poses. We need a just transition that empowers and guarantees opportunities for workers in the renewable energy industry, and I will be a voice for workers in the fossil fuel industry to ensure no one gets left behind. Texas is uniquely equipped with enough sunlight and wind to compliment each other and make a 100% renewable power grid cheaper and more reliable. Through a Green New Deal, we will create countless new jobs in our community and protect our planet and the future of South Texas while diversifying our workforce.
Our campaign is about restoring dignity to the hardworking people of the 28th district. That’s why I’m committed to running a grassroots, people-powered campaign. Unlike Congressman Cuellar, I’m not accepting any corporate PAC money or contributions from lobbyists, and I will only answer to the people of our district. While less than 1% of Congressman Cuellar’s contributions come from small dollar donations, our campaign is proud to be powered by over 40,000 grassroots donations from working people across the country with an average donation of $34.
I support getting big money out of politics and overturning Citizens United, which allows corporations and other special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections. But it’s not enough to take the pledge –– we need to end the influence of corporate money in our elections and restore trust in our government. I’m ready to take that fight to Washington.
Like so many other families in South Texas, my parents worked hard to make sure my sister and I had the opportunity to focus and succeed in school – and through hard work, I became a lawyer and my sister became a doctor. But I know my family’s story is the exception, not the rule, and there’s so much talent in our district that is waiting to be invested in and cultivated.
In Congress, I will fight for universal pre-K, tuition-free public college and trade school, and eliminating student debt, so every South Texan has a fair shot at their own dreams. Our teachers are our heroes, but too often they are overworked and underpaid. Our classrooms are understocked, our educators are underpaid, and our students are undervalued. It’s time for that to change.