The first Indian American U.S. congresswoman, elected in 2016 alongside Donald Trump, might be a freshman in the House, but if anything that’s only helped her standing as the symbol of the new “resistance”—more women, more people of color, and more immigrants in elected positions and on the frontlines against discriminatory federal policies. Jayapal, who immigrated from India at age 16, promised to be a voice for people of color. So far she’s delivered.
“My message to women, including women of color: Stand strong,” Jayapal once wrote on Facebook. “Refuse to be minimized or patronized. Let all the small guys out there be intimidated by you.” And they are.
When Trump announced his ban from seven Muslim-majority countries in January 2017, resulting in the detainment of travelers at Sea-Tac airport, she demanded details about each one. And she was among the first to call for a special investigation into the administration’s ties to Russian interference in the election.
She’s also made national headlines—for forcing an Alaska senator who called her “young lady” to apologize, for her response to a C-SPAN caller’s rant about “illegal aliens,” and for being the first to demand that male lawmakers from her own party resign following sexual misconduct allegations.
When the House voted on a resolution to impeach Trump, every representative from Washington voted to table the measure. Every representative, that is, but one.
Updated 8:57am on February 1, 2018, to reflect that Jayapal was the only representative from the state who voted against tabling the resolution.