Fact Check: ‘Girl from the Bronx’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Grew Up in One of Richest U.S. Counties

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez smiles after taking a phone call in New York, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. The 28-year-old political newcomer who upset U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in New York's Democrat primary says she brings an "urgency" to the fight for working families. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Party’s rising socialist star, describes herself as “a girl from the Bronx” to project a working-class image. However, this claim is only half true – to borrow a phrase from the left-wing website PolitiFact.

“Well, you know, the president is from Queens, and with all due respect — half of my district is from Queens — I don’t think he knows how to deal with a girl from the Bronx,” Ocasio-Cortez said this week on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

She similarly told the Washington Post: “I wasn’t born to a wealthy or powerful family — mother from Puerto Rico, dad from the South Bronx. I was born in a place where your Zip code determines your destiny.”

The congressional candidate, who pulled off an upset win against high-ranking establishment Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), was indeed born in New York City’s Bronx borough. She currently lives there, too.

So what’s the issue? Ocasio-Cortez omits that for most of her formative years, she was actually raised in one of the United States’ wealthiest counties.

Around the age of five, Alexandria’s architect father Sergio Ocasio moved the family from the “planned community” of Parkchester in the Bronx to a home in Yorktown Heights, a wealthy suburb in Westchester County. The New York Times describes her childhood home as “a modest two-bedroom house on a quiet street.” In a 1999 profile of the area, when Ocasio-Cortez would have been ten years old, the Times lauded Yorktown Heights’ “diversity of housing in a scenic setting” – complete with two golf courses.

The paper quoted Linda Cooper, the town supervisor, describing Yorktown as ”a folksy area where people can come, kick off their shoes, wander around, sit in a cafe, listen to a concert in the park, or go to the theater.”

In a fun coincidence, Yorktown, which contains Yorktown Heights, is also home to a 436-acre state park named after – yes, one Donald J. Trump.

After high school, Ocasio-Cortez studied international relations and economics at Boston University and worked for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA). Only after college did Ocasio-Cortez return to the Parkchester complex, where she launched Brook Avenue Press, a publishing group aimed at improving the public image of the Bronx.

Westchester County – which the Washington Post, in a glowing profile on Ocasio-Cortez, describes as only “middle class” – ranks #8 in the nation for the counties with the “highest average incomes among the wealthiest one percent of residents.” According to the Economic Policy Institute, the county’s average annual income of the top one percent is a staggering $4,326,049.

Yorktown Heights, specifically, offers a sharp contrast from Bronx living. According to USA.com, the town’s population is 81 percent white, and median household income is $96,413 – nearly double the average for both New York state and the nation, according to data from 2010-2014.

The 28-year-old’s far-left platform includes abolishing ICE, universal guaranteed employment, and Medicare for all. In an interview with CNN, Ocasio-Cortez said she supports impeaching President Trump, despite warnings from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to avoid the issue.

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