Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr Biography » Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 1952—: U.S. Congressional Representative Biography - Quickly Adapted To New Country, Won First Election, Took On More Controversial Issues

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 1952—: U.S. Congressional Representative - Took On More Controversial Issues

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"No one talks about Elian's mother, about her sacrifice, so he could reach liberty in this beautiful country," Ros-Lehtinen was quoted as saying by the New York Times. The Cuban government (according to the Times) called her a "ferocious wolf disguised as a woman," to Ros-Lehtinen's delight. Ros-Lehtinen's already high profile in south Florida was raised further, and her husband contemplated a run for mayor of Miami in the early 2000s. Ros-Lehtinen, as chair of the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights beginning in 2001, emerged as a strong supporter of Israel and of President George W. Bush's foreign policies, as well as working to scuttle attempts to open up agricultural trade with Cuba. In 2003 she raised eyebrows when she denounced a State Department analyst during administration infighting over how to deal with an Iranian exile group active in Iraq during the Gulf War, calling him a "weasel," and a "gutless bureaucrat who won't come out of his cave," according to The Hill.

Ros-Lehtinen's record on domestic issues was mixed and often pragmatic. Conservative in her basic orientation, she was strongly opposed to abortion and in 2000 sponsored a bill (ultimately passed by the House by a 417-0 vote) to ban the execution of pregnant women. She has been active in the area of crime victims' rights and has proposed a constitutional victims' rights amendment. On other issues such as reductions in welfare payments to immigrants, RosLehtinen deserted her Republican colleagues. She refused to sign the Contract with America during the 1994 congressional campaign due to what she considered its anti-immigrant bias, and she urged the party to pay more attention to immigrants' concerns. In 2003 she plunged into the controversial issue of the proposed merger between the giant Spanish-language broadcast firms Univision and HBC, urging government regulators to approve the merger.

"I wish our party would be more aggressive in courting [the] Hispanic vote but because of welfare and immigration reform and English-only issues we are afraid to try and solicit their support," Ros-Lehtinen was quoted as saying by The Almanac of American Politics. With the Hispanic vote increasingly up for grabs and RosLehtinen's trademark frosted dark hair an increasingly visible presence at the national level, it seemed likely that Republican policymakers would listen closely to what she had to say. Hers was already an immigrant success story of the first order.



Barone, Michael, and Richard E. Cohen, with Charles E. Cook Jr., The Almanac of American Politics 2002, National Journal, 2001.

Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale, 1996.

Newsmakers 2000, Issue 2, Gale, 2000.


Boston Globe, August 31, 1989, p. 3.

Insight on the News, February 22, 1999, p. 21.

The Hill, April 8, 2003, p. 4.

Jerusalem Post, March 11, 2003, p. 4.

Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News Service, February 27, 2003.

National Right to Life News, August 2000.

New York Times, January 10, 2000, p. A12.

St. Petersburg Times, August 30, 1989, p. A1.

Time, September 11, 1989, p. 31.


"Ileana Ros-Lehtinen," U.S. House of Representatives, www.house.gov/ros-lehtinen (May 29, 2003).

—James M. Manheim

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