- • One of the original co-authors of the DREAM Act • Her father was a U.S. congressman and a Communist Party sympathizer • Member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Lucille Roybal-Allard was born on June 12, 1941, in Boyle Heights, California, and she earned a B.A. from California State University-Los Angeles in 1965. Her father, Edward Roybal, was a longtime U.S. congressman (1963-1993) who, during his tenure as a legislator, enjoyed the support of some noteworthy Communist Party USA members. Her mother, Lucille Beserra Roybal, was a founding member of the National Association of Latino and Elected Officials. And both parents together were founding members of the radical Mexican American Political Association.
A lifelong Democrat, Lucille Roybal-Allard launched a political career in 1987 when she was elected to the California State Assembly. Five years later, she became the first Mexican-American woman ever to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she continues to serve California’s 40th Congressional District, a region whose population is overwhelmingly Latino. Roybal-Allard is a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Congress, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — the latter of which was co-founded by her father in 1976.
Proudly describing herself as “a dedicated ally of labor unions,” Roybal-Allard has voted numerous times in favor of raising the minimum wage. In 1997 she co-sponsored Congressman Matthew Martinez’s Job Creation and Infrastructure Restoration Act, which proposed to use $250 billion in federal funds for the establishment of union-wage jobs rebuilding infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, libraries, public transportation, highways, and parks). Martinez had previously introduced this bill in 1995 at the the request of the Los Angeles Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs, whose leaders were all supporters or members of the Communist Party USA.
In 1998, Roybal-Allard added her signature to a letter urging then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to continue the suspension of U.S. funding to the Colombian army that was engaged in a civil war against communist guerrillas in that South American country. The letter was sent at the behest of the Colombia Support Network, a Wisconsin-based non-profit group whose advisory council included such notables as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky.
In 2001, Roybal-Allard was one of the original co-authors of the DREAM Act, legislation aiming 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.
In 2013, Roybal-Allard authored and introduced an Immigration Fairness Agenda which sought “to ensure that immigrant detainees receive decent, humane treatment while in federal custody.” She also worked to implement a Department of Homeland Security directive which would enable detained aliens to “maintain a relationship with their children.”
In 2014, Roybal-Allard introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act, whose aim was to expand federally funded health-care services in a way that would benefit nonwhite minority communities, particularly illegal immigrants. Among other things, the bill sought to “eliminate [racial and ethnic] disparities in maternal health outcomes,” and to “establis[h] programs to reduce teenage pregnancies, including contraception education and information programs.”
In the summer of 2014, when tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were illegally flooding across the Mexican border and into a number of southern U.S. states, Roybal-Allard urged her constituents to “not abandon our American ideals or our moral obligation to care for these children.” Further, she called for Congress to “quickly pass a clean emergency supplemental spending bill” to deal with the sudden influx of newcomers.
In July 2015, Roybal-Allard spoke out against H.R. 3009, the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act, which sought to cut off federal funding to state and local governments that barred law-enforcement personnel from inquiring, in the course of their official duties, about an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. “It is misguided and counterproductive to force local law-enforcement officers to inquire about a person’s immigration status at any time and for any reason in order to receive critical public safety funding,” said the congresswoman. “It is also wrong and irresponsible that this bill misrepresents the immigrant community as one comprised entirely of criminals. In fact, decades of research show that immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes than native-born persons.”
In 2015 as well, Roybal-Allard criticized the American SAFE Act, legislation which was designed to: (a) strengthen law-enforcement’s ability to prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the U.S. as refugees; (b) deport such people when they were discovered; and (c) facilitate cooperation between federal agencies and local law-enforcement in immigration-related matters. “Let us not block the refuge that our nation can provide to the men, women, and children who suffer at the hands of extremist regimes,” said the congresswoman in a statement dated November 19, 2015.
When President Donald Trump in 2017 called for the termination of former President Barack Obama‘s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action — which had conferred temporary protection from deportation upon some 800,000 “Dreamers” — Roybal-Allard characterized Trump’s position as “cruel” and “un-American.” “Our country needs these young people and their talents more than ever to strengthen our economy and our society,” she stated. Roybal-Allard also helped introduce the American Hope Act of 2017, which, by her telling, “creates a path to permanent legal status and eventual citizenship for DACA recipients and all qualifying DREAMers brought to the U.S. as children.”
In response to a January 2018 news report indicating that the Trump administration wished to allocate $18 billion toward the construction of wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, Roybal-Allard said she was “appalled” by this plan “to waste $18 billion of taxpayer money on an ill-considered border wall.”
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 Roybal-Allard and 10 additional members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — Raul Grijalva, Nanette Diaz Barragan, Darren Soto, Sylvia Garcia, Jesus Garcia, Juan Vargas, Pete Aguilar, Lori Trahan, Veronica Escobar, and Ruben Gallego.
For an overview of Roybal-Allard’s voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives, click here.
For additional information on Lucille Roybal-Allard, click here.
Further Reading: Biographical information at Votesmart, Ballotpedia, Roybal-Allard.house.gov, and Keywiki.org; “Statement by Rep. Roybal-Allard at Press Conference on Unaccompanied Minors” (7-11-2014); “Rep. Roybal-Allard Statement on Sanctuary Cities Bill” (7-23-2015); “Rep. Roybal-Allard Statement on [Safe Act] Refugee Legislation” (11-19-2015); “Rep. Roybal-Allard Statement on President’s DACA Decision” (9-5-2017); “Rep. Roybal-Allard Statement on Border Wall Funding Report” (1-5-2018).