|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from New York's 13th district
January 3, 2017
|Member of the New York Senate|
from the 31st district
January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2016
|Member of the New York State Assembly|
from the 72nd district
January 1, 1997 - December 31, 2010
|John Brian Murtaugh|
Adriano de Jesús Espaillat Rodriguez
September 27, 1954
Santiago, Dominican Republic
|Education||Queens College (BA)|
Adriano de Jesús Espaillat Rodriguez (born September 27, 1954) is a Dominican-American politician. He is the U.S. Representative for New York's 13th congressional district and the first formerly undocumented immigrant to ever serve in Congress. Previously, he served as a member of the New York State Senate and as a member of the New York State Assembly.
Espaillat was a ranking member of the New York Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee and Chair of the Senate Latino Caucus. Espaillat represented the neighborhoods of Marble Hill, Inwood, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights, and the Upper West Side in Manhattan.
Espaillat is a Democrat. On November 8, 2016, Espaillat was elected to the United States House of Representatives from New York's 13th congressional district to succeed retiring Charles Rangel. He is the first Dominican-American member of Congress.
Espaillat was born on September 27, 1954 in Santiago, Dominican Republic to Melba (née Rodríguez) and Ulises Espaillat. Espaillat is a great-grandson of Dominican President Ulises Espaillat. Espaillat and his family moved to the United States in 1964. After overstaying a tourist visa, the Espaillats acquired Lawful Permanent Resident Cards also known as Green Cards in 1965.
He graduated from Bishop Dubois High School in 1974 and earned his B.S. degree in political science at Queens College in 1978. After growing up in Washington Heights, Espaillat currently lives in Inwood, Manhattan.
Espaillat served as the Manhattan Court Services Coordinator for the New York City Criminal Justice Agency, a non-profit organization that provides indigent legal services and works to reduce unnecessary pretrial detention and post-sentence incarceration costs. As a state-certified conflict resolution mediator and volunteer with the Washington Heights Inwood Conflict Resolutions and Mediation Center, Espaillat helped resolve hundreds of conflicts.
He later worked as Director of the Washington Heights Victims Services Community Office, an organization offering counseling and other services to families of victims of homicides and other crimes. From 1994 to 1996, Espaillat served as the Director of Project Right Start, a national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to combat substance abuse by educating the parents of pre-school children.
Prior to his election to the New York State Assembly, Espaillat was an active voice on New York City Community Board 12, and President of the 34th Precinct Community Council. Espaillat also served on Governor Mario Cuomo's Dominican-American Advisory Board from 1991-1993.
Espaillat served in the New York State Assembly from 1997 to 2010. He was first elected after defeating 16-year incumbent John Brian Murtaugh in the 1996 Democratic Primary. Espaillat chaired the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, and committees on small business and children & families.
In the Assembly, Espaillat was a vocal advocate for tenants, consumers, veterans, immigrants and local businesses. He passed laws encouraging the construction and preservation of affordable housing, giving low-income day care workers the right to organize and obtain health care, and sponsored measures to improve hospital translation services. He also established a higher education scholarship fund for relatives of the victims of American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed on November 12, 2001. Despite national Republican and conservative criticism, Espaillat strongly supported efforts in 2007 to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
After a wave of assaults and murders against livery cab drivers in 2000 that left over 10 dead, Espaillat passed legislation strengthening penalties for violent crimes against livery drivers and enabled their families to receive New York State Crime Victims Board funding. Livery cabs work in less affluent neighborhoods of New York that typically lack access to yellow cabs.
Espaillat took legal action against power utility Con Edison after equipment failures led to a two-day blackout in Upper Manhattan, in July 1999, that caused financial damage to restaurants, bodegas and other small businesses. Con Edison subsequently agreed to invest an additional $100 million in Upper Manhattan electrical infrastructure at no cost to ratepayers and was required to refund customers billed for expenses related to the blackout.
Espaillat ran for Senate in 2010 after incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman announced his campaign for New York Attorney General. Espaillat received more than 50% of the vote in a four-way Democratic party. In 2012, Espaillat defeated then-Assemblyman Guillermo Linares 62% - 38% in the Democratic Primary.
Following his loss to Rangel in the Democratic primary, Espaillat announced his re-election bid for his State Senate seat, facing former City Councilman Robert Jackson.
In the end, Espaillat won his bid for re-election to the Senate over Jackson, 50.3% to 42.7%.
In 2011, Espaillat led the fight to safeguard and strengthen rent regulation for over 1 million affordable housing apartments that was set to expire that year. While tenant protections had been weakened in the past, the agreement reached that year made it more difficult to convert affordable housing to market rate and created a new Tenant Protection Unit within the state's housing agency.
Espaillat also passed legislation increasing enforcement against businesses that sell alcohol to minors and authored the Notary Public Advertising Act, to crack down on unscrupulous public notaries who prey on vulnerable immigrants by offering fraudulent legal services. He voted in favor of marriage equality legislation in 2011.
In 2012, Espaillat ran in the Democratic primary for New York's 13th Congressional District, in a crowded field that included 42-year incumbent Charles Rangel. The seat had long been a majority-black district, but demographic change made it a 55 percent Hispanic district.
In the Democratic primary-the real contest in this heavily Democratic district-Rangel narrowly beat Espaillat 44% to 42%, with a margin of victory of less than 1,000 votes. Espaillat placed first in the Bronx section of the district and parts of Upper Manhattan.
The election was marked by reports that Spanish-speaking voters were either turned away at the polls or forced to use affidavit ballots. The New York City Board of Elections was also sharply criticized for its poor handling of the election and subsequent legal proceedings.
In 2014, Espaillat ran against incumbent Charlie Rangel again, losing for the second consecutive time, 47.7% to 43.1%.
In November 2015, Espaillat announced he would give up his State Senate seat to run for Congress again. He was running in an open seat; Rangel had announced in 2014 that he would not seek a 22nd term in 2016. In the Democratic primary, he narrowly defeated his nearest challenger, state assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, with 36 percent of the vote. As previously mentioned, the 13th is so heavily Democratic that Espaillat's primary victory virtually assured him of being its next congressman. As expected, he won the general election handily, taking over 81 percent of the vote.
When Espaillat took office on January 3, 2017, he became only the third person to represent what is now the 13th in 72 years. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. held the district from 1945 to 1971; Rangel had won the seat after defeating Powell in the 1970 primary. The district had been numbered as the 22nd District from 1945 to 1953, the 16th from 1953 to 1963, the 18th from 1963 to 1973, the 19th from 1973 to 1983, the 16th from 1983 to 1993, the 15th from 1993 to 2013, and has been the 13th since 2013.
Espaillat serves as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the Select Committee on Small Business. He is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and was appointed as Chairman of the CHC Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing.
In August 2017, following the aftermath of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Espaillat and Pennsylvania Representative Dwight E. Evans introduced legislation banning Confederate monuments on federal property.
Espaillat has been critical of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro. In March 2019 he and 29 other Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that read in part, "Since the election of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as president, we have been particularly alarmed by the threat Bolsonaro's agenda poses to the LGBTQ+ community and other minority communities, women, labor activists, and political dissidents in Brazil."
Mr. Espaillat says he is a descendant of one of the Dominican Republic's most notable political figures -- Ulises Francisco Espaillat, who held the presidency for about five months in 1876.
|New York Assembly|
John Brian Murtaugh
| Member of the New York Assembly
from the 72nd district
|New York State Senate|
| Member of the New York Senate
from the 31st district
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 13th congressional district
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority