Adriano Espaillat

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Adriano D. Espaillat
Adriano Espaillat 115th Congress photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 13th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded by Charles Rangel
Member of the New York State Senate
from the 31st district
In office
January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2016
Preceded by Eric Schneiderman
Succeeded by Marisol Alcantara
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 72nd district
In office
January 1, 1997 – December 31, 2010
Preceded by John Murtaugh
Succeeded by Guillermo Linares
Personal details
Born (1954-09-27) September 27, 1954 (age 62)
Santiago, Dominican Republic
Political party Democratic
Children 2[1]
Residence Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.[1]
Alma mater Queens College
Profession Elected official
Website Official website

Adriano D. Espaillat Cabral /ˌɑːdriˈɑːn ˌɛspˈjɑːt/ (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.[2] Previously, he served as a member of the New York State Senate and as a member of the New York State Assembly.[3]

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, Fort George, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, West Harlem, 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.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Espaillat was born on September 27, 1954 in Santiago, Dominican Republic[5][1] to Melba (née Rodríguez) and Ulises Espaillat. He describes himself as "a Latino of African descent."[6] Espaillat is a great-grandson of Dominican President Ulises Espaillat, who was of French and Spanish ancestry.[7][8]

He graduated from Bishop Dubois High School in 1974 and earned his B.S. degree in political science at Queens College in 1978.[5]


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.[9]

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.[9]

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, working to eradicate drugs and crime from Upper Manhattan and successfully advocating for the creation of a new police precinct. Espaillat also served on Governor Mario Cuomo's Dominican-American Advisory Board from 1991-1993.[9]

New York State Assembly[edit]

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 1995 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.[10] Despite national Republican and conservative criticism, Espaillat strongly supported efforts in 2007 to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14]

New York State Senate[edit]

Office on Columbus Avenue

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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] He voted in favor of marriage equality legislation in 2011.[18]

NYS Senate committee assignments[edit]

  • Housing, Construction & Community Development (Ranking Member)
  • Environmental Conservation
  • Higher Education
  • Codes
  • Rules
  • Judiciary
  • Finance
  • Insurance

2012 Congressional election[edit]

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 been a majority-black district, but demographic change has given it a plurality of Hispanics.

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.[19]

The election was marked by reports that Spanish-speaking voters were either turned away at the polls or forced to use affidavit ballots.[20] The New York City Board of Elections was also sharply criticized for its poor handling of the election and subsequent legal proceedings.[21]

2014 Congressional and State Senate elections[edit]

In 2014, Espaillat ran against incumbent Charlie Rangel again, losing for the second consecutive time. 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.[22]

According to the New York Post, "Jackson pointed to Espaillat’s vote to repeal the commuter tax in 1999 — which has deprived the city of billions of dollars in revenues — as one major reason he should get the boot." Jackson went on to say that, "Espaillat had the second-worst attendance record in the entire Senate, and the person that has the worst was carted off in handcuffs.”

In the end, Espaillat won his bid for re-election to the Senate by a very narrow margin.[23]

2016 Congressional election[edit]

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.[24] He narrowly defeated his nearest challenger, state assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, with 36 percent of the vote. He won the General Election to his seat on November 8.

US House of Representatives[edit]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Legislative Preview: Meet The New Members". The Capitol. Manhattan Media. January 6, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ Moreno, Carolina (2016-11-09). "Adriano Espaillat Becomes First Formerly Undocumented Immigrant In Congress". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-25. 
  3. ^ "El poder politico de Nueva York tambien honró el dia de Duarte" (in Spanish). La Nación Dominicana. February 1, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2010. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "Adriano Espaillat: Biography". New York State Senate. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  6. ^ Joseph, Cameron (3 January 2017). "New York's newest Congressman Adriano Espaillat to make history". New York Daily News. Retrieved 4 January 2017. I am a Latino of African descent. It doesn't matter if you're from Cuba or the Dominican Republic or South Carolina or Alabama, the roots are the same and I hope we can build upon that. 
  7. ^ "De Washington Heitghts a Washington DC, Espaillat rompe 70 años de poder afroamericano" (in Spanish). New York: El Nuevo Diario. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  8. ^ Eligon, John (18 June 2012). "Running for the House on Pride in His Roots, and Pure Energy". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 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. 
  9. ^ a b c "Senator Adriano Espaillat". Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "Assembly Task Force on New Americans". 2002 Report. 
  11. ^ Hakim, Danny (October 28, 2007). "Spitzer Tries New Tack on Immigrant Licenses". New York Times. 
  12. ^ Fountain, John (July 13, 2000). "Stricter Sentences for Livery-Cab Crimes". New York Times. 
  13. ^ Wald, Matthew (July 21, 2000). "Nuclear Agency Delays Reopening of Con Ed's Indian Point 2 Plant". New York Times. 
  14. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (August 9, 2000). "Pataki Signs Bill Requiring Con Ed Rebate". New York Times. 
  15. ^ "Espaillat defeats Linares in State Senate primary". Columbia Spectator. September 14, 2012. 
  16. ^ Lombardi, Frank (April 14, 2011). "Freshman state Sen. Espaillat going to bat for more than 1M tenants from rent regulation changes". Daily News. New York. 
  17. ^ McHugh, Brendan (July 6, 2011). "Smiling Dynamo recounts rookie year". Bronx Press Politics. 
  18. ^ Zanoni, Carla (June 8, 2011). "Latino Politicians Call on Albany to Pass Marriage Equality Legislation". DNAinfo. 
  19. ^ "Board of Elections Results" (PDF). 
  20. ^ Chen, David (July 9, 2012). "Rangel's Opponent Gives Up And Will Halt Court Challenge". New York Times. 
  21. ^ Gonzalez, Juan (July 6, 2012). "Troubling actions by Board of Elex members". Daily News. New York. 
  22. ^ Toback, Ross; Campanile, Carl (June 26, 2014). "After loss to Rangel, Espaillat to focus on re-election in Albany". New York Post. 
  23. ^ "Espaillat re-elected to State Senate in slight majority over Jackson - Columbia Daily Spectator". Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  24. ^ Blain, Glenn (November 4, 2015). "Field of candidates looking to replace Rep. Charles Rangel increases by two". New York Daily News. 

External links[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
John Brian Murtaugh
New York State Assembly, 72nd District
Succeeded by
Guillermo Linares
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Eric Schneiderman
New York State Senate, 31st District
Succeeded by
Marisol Alcantara
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Neal Dunn
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
John Faso
R-New York