Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Youngest woman elected to Congress in the 2018 midterms

Here’s more about the Puerto Rican woman who stormed into the history books during the US midterms 2018.

Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an American politician, educator and political activist who made history in the US midterm elections of 2018 to become the youngest woman in Congress.

The 29-year-old is a Democrat and won the congressional race for New York’s 14th District – covering the Bronx and Queens – with more than 74.3 per cent of the vote.

It has been seen as the biggest upset of the US midterms 2018.

At 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in US history.

The record was formerly held by Republican Elise Stefanik of New York, who took office at the age of 30 in 2015.

Following the US midterms, there are now more than 116 women in Congress – an all-time high – beating the previous record of 107.

What is her background?

Ocasio-Cortez was born on October 13, 1989, in the Bronx, New York, but grew up in Yorktown Heights, Westchester County.

She is the daughter of working class parents of Puerto Rican descent.

After completing college, she moved back to the Bronx and worked as a bartender in Manhattan as well as a waitress in taqueria (taco stand).

With financial backing from Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator, she established a publishing firm, Brook Avenue Press, which specializes in children's literature that portrays the Bronx in a positive light.

After finding out she had been purged from the New York voter rolls and could not vote in the 2016 primary, Ocasio-Cortez worked as an organizer for Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign.

After the general election, she travelled across America by car, visiting places like Flint, Michigan, and Standing Rock, and speaking to people affected by the human rights violations related to the Flint water crisis and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In an interview she recalled her visit to Standing Rock as a tipping point, saying that before that she had felt that the only way to effectively run for office was if you had access to wealth, social influence, and power.

But her visit to North Dakota, where she saw others "putting their whole lives and everything that they had on the line for the protection of their community," inspired her to begin to work for her own community.

How did she get a seat in the House of Representatives in June?

Ocasio-Cortez shocked the establishment when she won the Democratic primary in June, unseating Joe Crowley.

Crowley, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, had represented the Bronx and Queens district for 10 terms and was predicted by many to replace Nancy Pelosi as minority leader.

He had not faced a primary challenger since 2004.

Ocasio-Cortez faced a significant financial disadvantage, but said, "You can't really beat big money with more money. You have to beat them with a totally different game."

Nearly 75 per cent of her donations were small individual contributions, while less than one per cent of Crowley's contributions were.

The Ocasio-Cortez campaign spent $194,000 as opposed to the Crowley campaign of $3.4 million.

Ocasio-Cortez has not previously held elected office, and her campaign video began with her saying "Women like me aren't supposed to run for office."

What is her view on immigration?

Ocasio-Cortez made abolishing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) one of her main campaign issues and travelled to a shelter in Texas where separated migrant families were being held to see the situation first hand.

In June, she said: “We are committing human rights abuses on this border and separating children from their families and that is part of the structure of the agency.

“We can replace it and we can replace it with a humane agency that is directed towards safe passage instead of criminalization.”

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