Lucille Roybal-Allard, First Mexican American Congresswoman, Announces Retirement

The Latina political trailblazer has served in Congress for three decades.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) announced her retirement on Monday after serving three decades in Congress.

Roybal-Allard, who made history in 1992 as the first Mexican American woman elected to Congress, said that she decided not to seek reelection because she wants to spend more time with her family.

“Serving my constituents in Congress has been the single most distinguished honor of my life,” said the congresswoman, who represents a predominantly Latino district in southeast Los Angeles.

The congresswoman, 80, currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is its first Latina member.

Roybal-Allard, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was an original co-author on the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, which proposed to give permanent residence and eventual citizenship to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. She introduced the latest version of the DREAM Act, which passed the House but has not advanced in the Senate, where Democrats only hold a slim majority.

As news spread of Roybal-Allard’s retirement, Latinx officials and lawmakers celebrated her barrier-breaking public service: Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.) described the congresswoman as “an example & inspiration to generations of young Latinas - especially in Southeast LA.” Democratic state Sen. Susan Rubio (Calif.) said that “every Latina legislator owes a debt of gratitude” to Roybal-Allard.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hailed her departing colleague as “an absolute force for progress” in Congress who had an “unyielding commitment to our immigrant communities” and had been “fearless in her decades-long fight to deliver a pathway to citizenship.”

Before serving in Congress, Roybal-Allard was a California State Assembly member. She was born in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights community and graduated from California State University, Los Angeles.

Her father, the late Rep. Edward Roybal, also served in Congress for three decades and was a co-founder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Roybal-Allard was later the first woman chair.