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Lucille Roybal-Allard: 1941—: U.S. Congresswoman

Moved To The National Stage

In 1992, Edward Roybal retired from Congress after three decades of service. His daughter decided to make a run for his seat. She took nearly three quarters of the vote in the Democratic primary and won against her Republican opponent with 63 percent of the vote.

Serving in Congress meant greater responsibility, and it also meant playing on a much larger stage. RoybalAllard continued to work hard for her constituency, but many of the issues she fought for in Los Angeles were just as important in the rest of the country. Her strong support of environmental legislation and women's rights issues continued. She also took strong stands on crime fighting, health care, and immigration law reform. In her own district in California, she introduced a number of workshops on topics ranging from obtaining citizenship to first-time home buying to health issues. She created a Grants Notification Program in her district to provide residents with information about available federal grants and how to apply for them. Her constituents rewarded her with more landslide reelections; in the 1998 election she won 87 percent of the vote.

A typical example of her legislation is a bill she co-sponsored in October of 2002, the Earned Legalization and Family Unification bill. Under this legislation, illegal immigrants who had lived in the United States for five years as productive citizens could be granted legal resident status. The bill was crafted to protect hard-working, law-abiding immigrants living under the constant threat of being found, deported, and possibly separated from their families.

She also sponsored a bill that would allow nonprofit agencies to solicit federal funding to conduct workshops on citizenship for immigrants. The goal of this legislation was to encourage immigrants to become citizens and to encourage citizens to register to vote. Among the projects she created in her home district was the Student Information Program, which provides information to students about financial aid, scholarships and grants, internships, and fellowships.

Roybal-Allard evidently proved to be as popular with her colleagues as with her constituents. She was elected chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation in 1997. Two years later she was appointed to the influential House Appropriations Committee, and was elected chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). She was the first Hispanic to be named to the Appropriations Committee and the first woman to head the California delegation and the CHC. However, according to Hispanic Magazines, "despite her rise to national prominence, Roybal-Allard makes it her first priority to represent her Los Angeles community."

Roybal-Allard was also named to the Democratic Homeland Security task force in 2002. She stated on the weekly Hispanic Response radio broadcast, printed at the Democratic National Committee website, "As a member of the Democratic Homeland Security Task Force, I am committed to working with my Congressional colleagues and the Administration to do everything within our power to safeguard our nation from future terrorist threats." Although a supporter of a strong and effective national defense, she was one of 133 Representatives to vote against the joint resolution that would allow the president to use military force against Iraq in a pre-emptive strike.

Despite her busy schedule and travel between Washington and Los Angeles, Roybal-Allard does make time for herself when she can. She enjoys movies, dancing, and music, and particularly enjoys the sounds of Tito Puente.



Telgen, Diana, and Jim Kamp, Notable Hispanic American Women, Gale, 1993.


Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, January 16, 1993, p. 53.

Hispanic Business, April 1999, p. 16.

Latina, May 1999.

Los Angeles Business Journal, June 25, 1990, p. 25.

Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1987, p. 3.


"Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard Delivers Weekly Hispanic Radio Response on Homeland Security Democratic National Committee Website," www.democrats.org/news/200206220003.html (March 31, 2003).

"Lucille Roybal-Allard," Hispanic Americans in Congress, www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/congress/roybalallard.html (March 31, 2003).

"Lucille Roybal-Allard," Official U.S. Congress home page, www.house.gov/roybal-allard (March 31, 2003).

"Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA)," Project Vote Smart, www.vote-smart.org (March 31, 2003).

"Stepping out of Dad's Shadow," Hispanic Magazine Online, www.hispanicmagazine.com/1999/julaug/Features/stepping.html (March 31, 2003).

—George A. Milite

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyLucille Roybal-Allard: 1941—: U.S. Congresswoman Biography - No Interest In Holding Office, Brought Grass-roots Groups Together, Moved To The National Stage