Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Democratic U.S. Congresswoman from New York City

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became a national figure in 2018 when she upset Joe Crowley, a member of House leadership, in the June primary for the U.S. House seat representing New York’s 14th congressional district. The newly minted progressive leader won the general election five months later and, at 29, became the youngest woman to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Much of Ocasio-Cortez’s young career has been defined by her stances on immigration policy. A leader in the Abolish ICE movement, in an interview during her congressional primary race in March of 2018 she called the agency a “product of the Bush-era Patriot Act suite of legislation” and “an enforcement agency that takes on more of a paramilitary tone every single day.” As a congresswoman, she was the only Democrat to vote against H.R. 648 — a 2019 bill to fund and reopen the government — because it funded ICE.

Because of the press’s lack of access to immigration detention centers, Ocasio-Cortez has referred to them as “black sites.” She has also described them as concentration camps and stood by the description even in the face of widespread criticism, citing such scholars as Andrea Pitzer, who made a similar claim.

An organizer for Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, in October of 2019 Ocasio-Cortez endorsed the Vermont senator’s 2020 campaign and has been one of Sanders’s most prominent supporters, becoming a regular at campaign events. “It wasn’t until I heard of a man by the name of Bernie Sanders,” she said, “that I began to question and assert and recognize my inherent value as a human being that deserves health care, housing, education and a living wage.”


Ocasio-Cortez’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Ocasio-Cortez supports decriminalizing border crossings.

  • Border Wall

    Ocasio-Cortez does not support the construction of any barrier at U.S. borders.

  • Detention

    Ocasio-Cortez has visited migrant detention centers and condemned the conditions as “horrifying.” She has called for an independent commission to investigate the Trump administration’s family separations and detention-of-minors policies. In February 2021, she criticized the opening of a new migrant detention facility for children, tweeting, “This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay - no matter the administration or party.”

  • Immigration Courts

    Ocasio-Cortez supports separating oversight of immigration courts from the Justice Department in order to give the system more independence. She also supports guaranteeing due process for all immigrants going through the system, including legal representation.

  • Undocumented Population

    Ocasio-Cortez supports a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants who have led law-abiding lives since entering the U.S. She supports providing government benefits to anyone in the country with need, regardless of immigration status. In 2021, she introduced a bill to provide legal status to undocumented workers who participated in rescues and cleanup after the 9/11 attacks.

  • ICE

    Ocasio-Cortez has called for the agency to be dissolved.

  • DACA

    Ocasio-Cortez supports a pathway to citizenship for all DACA enrollees.

  • Asylum & Refugees

    Ocasio-Cortez supports increasing the annual caps on asylum seekers granted permanent residency in the country. She has called for the creation of a refugee status for individuals displaced by climate change.

  • Central America Policy

    Ocasio-Cortez has called for continued funding to the region and a more sweeping policy to address the violence and climate change driving much of the emigration. She has called for the government to “start acting like a real partner in Latin America and increase visas where we intervene.”

  • Visas

    Ocasio-Cortez has called for an expansion of the guest-worker visa program for farmworkers. She also advocates for increasing opportunities for holders of temporary work visas to become permanent residents. She has proposed “large-scale public investment to spur job creation for citizens and immigrants alike.”

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