Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia Make History as First Texas Latinas Elected to Congress

Escobar said she hopes to be a check on Trump’s worst tendencies and “push back against the politics of hatred” in Congress.

Escobar said she hopes to be a check on Trump’s worst tendencies and “push back against the politics of hatred” in Congress.

Veronica Escobar, Sylvia Garcia  Courtesy/Facebook

In the nearly 175 years since Texas joined the union, the state has sent more 300 representatives to Congress, but none have been Latina — until now. As of 8:30 p.m., campaigns for El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar and Texas state Senator Sylvia Garcia have declared wins in congressional districts 16 and 29, respectively.

Garcia and Escobar’s wins in the general election were fairly clear from the get-go. Both women won more than 60 percent of the vote during the primaries. Escobar ran for the El Paso seat vacated by Beto O’Rourke, who in case you missed it is running a close race against Ted Cruz for a seat in the U.S. Senate. And Garcia ran for retiring Representative Gene Green’s Houston seat that he’s held since 1992. Green endorsed Garcia.

Their election to Congress comes when anti-immigrant fervor is at an all-time high, with the president and many Republicans fanning the flames with xenophobic rhetoric. In just the last couple weeks, a caravan of immigrants more than 1,000 miles away fleeing poverty and violence has been branded by Trump as “an invasion,” and he has deployed 5,000 troops to the border. Escobar said she hopes to be a check on Trump’s worst tendencies.

“We’re living in an era under the Trump administration that is targeting communities like mine,” said Escobar. “During such a tumultuous time I think it’s beautiful that it’s the border that’s making history.”

In an interview with the Observer’s Justin Miller earlier this year, Escobar said that “Republicans — and some Democrats — use the border and immigration as the boogeyman.” She told the Observer today that she hopes to counter that “with facts and truth” and “push back against the politics of hatred” in Congress.

The votes are still rolling in. Escobar said she hoped that Texans would also vote for Jana Lynne Sanchez in CD-6 and send three Latinas to Congress instead of two. “That would be fantastic,” she said.

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Naveena Sadasivam is a staff writer covering the environment, energy and climate change at Grist. She previously covered environmental issues at the Texas Observer, InsideClimate News and ProPublica. At ProPublica, she was part of a team that reported on the water woes of the West, a project that was a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist for national reporting. She has a degree in chemical engineering and a master’s in environmental and science reporting from New York University and was a 2017 Ida B. Wells fellow at Type Investigations. You can contact her at [email protected] and follow her work on Twitter.

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