Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman elected to Congress on Tuesday evening. In her victory speech, the congresswoman-elect criticized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), accusing the agency of committing human rights abuses.
NBC News projected the far-left candidate would go on to defeat her Republican rival and St. John’s University professor Anthony Pappas in New York’s 14th Congressional District with 74.4 percent of the votes counted.
Ocasio-Cortez shocked many in New York politics, including herself, when she came out of nowhere to defeat 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic congressional primary last spring. The victory made her the national face of young, discontented Democrats — often women and minorities — trying to move their party to the left. She takes the record for the youngest woman elected to Congress from Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican representing upstate New York who was elected at age 30.
“This is what is possible when everyday people come together in the collective realization that all our actions… are powerful, worthwhile, and capable of lasting change,” Ocasio-Cortez told attendees during her victory speech.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ofrece su primer discurso tras ser elegida como la mujer más joven a la Cámara de Representantes. pic.twitter.com/JK2daERukf
— Univision Noticias (@UniNoticias) November 7, 2018
“Words cannot express my gratitude to every organizer, every small-dollar donor, every working parent and Dreamer who helped make this movement happen,” she added. “And that’s exactly what this is, not a campaign or an Election Day but a movement… for social, economic and racial justice.”
“We launched this campaign because no one was clearly and authentically talking about issues like the corrupting role of money in politics. Like the disturbing human rights violations being committed by ICE,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “By the fact that no one was giving a voice to the idea, to the notion that an entire generation is graduating with crippling loads of student loans debt that’s a ticking time bomb for our economy.”
Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx but raised in suburban Westchester County. Her father passed away while she was a student at Boston University in 2008. A self-described “Democratic socialist,” Ocasio-Cortez got her start in politics as an organizer for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Among several far-left policy positions, the congresswoman-elect supports a national $15 minimum wage, universal health care coverage, and the abolishment of ICE.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.