- • Member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus • Supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens • Describes herself as an “environmental justice” activist
Nanette Diaz Barragán was born on September 15, 1976, in Harbor City, California, to parents who had migrated illegally to the U.S. from Mexico. She was the youngest of eleven children.
Barragán graduated from UCLA in 2000 with a B.A. in political science/public policy. During her student days in the late 1990s, she worked in the Office of Public Liaison for the Bill Clinton White House, where she headed outreach efforts aimed at African Americans. Barragán is a longtime member of the NAACP and was once employed by that organization, where she was tasked with studying how nonwhite minorities have been affected by racial health disparities and societal discrimination.
After earning a Juris Doctor from the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California in 2005, Barragán spent seven years as a litigation attorney for a succession of three large law firms. In 2012 she moved to Florida to work on the voter-protection legal team of Organizing for Action, whose mission was to promote President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.
On her return to California in 2013, Barragán, a Democrat who describes herself as a “strong advocate for environmental justice,” was elected to the Hermosa Beach City Council, where her first order of business was to prevent oil giant E&B Natural Resources from drilling nearly three-dozen oil and water injection wells in the Santa Monica Bay area.
After two years with the City Council, Barragán became mayor of Hermosa Beach in June 2015. She resigned from that position just over a month later, however, in order to actively pursue a seat in Congress. In November 2016, the voters of California’s 44th Congressional District elected Barragán to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she is a member of both the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Barragán advocates for the passage of “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation that would provide a path-to-citizenship for illegal aliens. Toward that end, she supports the DREAM Act, a bill that aims to legalize and eventually naturalize a large number of so-called “Dreamers” — i.e., illegal-alien teens and young adults who first came to the United States as minors.
When President Donald Trump in 2017 sought to phase out former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which had begun with a 2012 executive action temporarily protecting hundreds of thousands of young illegal aliens from deportation, an “angry” Barragán stood on the House floor and declared: “I want every Dreamer to know that I stand with them and that I am going to fight like hell here in Congress to make sure that we protect them.” In another floor speech that same month, Barragán rose to “force a vote on the DREAM Act,” adding that a failure “to extend legal protections for Dreamers would be a historic betrayal, a permanent stain on our country.”
When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revoked another Obama-era executive action — the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which in 2014 made millions of additional illegal immigrants eligible for work permits and protection-from-deportation — Barragán lamented that many “hard working families” would be torn apart by the DHS measure.
Barragán supported California Governor Jerry Brown’s October 2017 decision to sign into law Senate Bill 54, whose purpose was to bar local law-enforcement personnel from using any public resources to assist federal immigration agents. When the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency subsequently threatened to conduct large-scale raids aimed at apprehending illegal aliens in that state, Barragán charged that ICE was “overstepping its authority in a clear act of retaliation by an administration intent on deporting as many people as it can.” On other occasions in 2017, Barragán characterized President Trump’s immigration raids and his proposed border wall as “thoughtless,” “absurd,” “ineffective,” and “wasteful” policies that were “taking [America] back to the dark ages” by standing “against everything that our country stands for.” Supporting early calls for impeachment by her fellow Democrats, Barragán told her Latino-majority district that she herself embodied the “voice… and face for the very community that this president is attacking.”
Barragán condemned a January 2017 executive order by which President Trump attempted to place a temporary moratorium on the issuance of visas for people seeking to travel to the United States from seven majority-Muslim nations that were hotbeds of Islamic terrorism. The following month, she and several dozen fellow House Democrats signed a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, decrying the so-called “Muslim ban” as a “divisive and hateful” measure that would drive “a sledgehammer through the founding principles of our nation” while “mak[ing] us less secure as a country.”
On January 25, 2021, Rep. Joaquin Castro introduced legislation that would bar staffers at all federal agencies “from using the derogatory term ‘alien’ to refer to an individual who is not a citizen or national of the United States.” The bill was co-sponsored by Barragán and 10 additional members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — Raul Grijalva, Darren Soto, Sylvia Garcia, Jesus Garcia, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Juan Vargas, Pete Aguilar, Lori Trahan, Veronica Escobar, and Ruben Gallego.
Embracing the notion that the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are major contributors to potentially catastrophic “climate change,” Barragán serves as chair of the CHC’s Task Force on the Environment. She also co-chairs the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Congressional Task Force, and is a member of the House’s Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. In these various positions, Barragán “works to bring awareness of how environmental conditions throughout the country have a disproportionate health impact on communities of color, low-income families, and other marginalized groups.” Moreover, she belongs to the House Committee on Natural Resources, where, according to her congressional website, she is “focused on fighting for stricter regulations on oil and gas drilling operations, advocating a more robust response to climate change, and fighting on behalf of environmental justice.” In January 2018, Rep. Barragán introduced an amendment designed to prohibit any new oil or gas drilling off the coast of California.
For information about Barragán’s voting record on key issues, click here.
For additional information on Nanette Diaz Barragán, click here.