Graciela Flores Napolitano was born on December 4, 1936 in Brownsville, Texas. She attended Cerritos College and Texas Southmost College but did not earn a degree, and later worked for the Ford Motor Company from 1970-92. A lifelong Democrat, Napolitano entered politics in 1986 when she began a six-year stint on the Norwalk, California City Council. She also served as the mayor of Norwalk from 1989-90, and as a member of the California State Assembly from 1992-98. In 1998 the voters of California's 34th Congressional District elected Napolitano to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she continues to hold a seat as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In 2003 Napolitano's district was renumbered as the 38th, and in 2013 it became the 32nd.
Committed to the principle that all women should have an unrestricted right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, Napolitano has voted: against a proposal to make it illegal to transport minors across state lines to undergo abortion without parental consent; against making it an additional criminal offense to harm a fetus during the commission of a crime; against a proposal to deny all federal funds to healthcare providers that do not provide their patients with information about abortion and related services; and against banning the procedure commonly known as “partial-birth abortion” in all cases except where the mother's life is in danger, or where the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape.
Napolitano favors the passage of “comprehensive” immigration reform that, as she puts it, “bring[s] millions out of the shadows,” “includes an earned path to citizenship,” and “keeps our families together” by eliminating deportations.
In 2012 Napolitano strongly supported the the Obama Administration's controversial “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) executive action which guaranteed that most DREAM Act-eligible individuals would be granted legal status, work permits, access to certain publicly funded social services, and protection from deportation for a period of two years. Likewise, in 2014 Napolitano supported Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which authorized similar benefits for millions of illegals not covered by the DACA edict.
In the summer of 2014, when tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were illegally flooding across the Mexican border, unchecked, into Texas and other southern U.S. states, Napolitano condemned Republicans who sought to stem the flow of that northward migration as heartless xenophobes aiming to “remove critical protections for [these] refugees of violence.”
In June 2015 Napolitano co-sponsored a resolution recognizing the third anniversary of President Obama's DACA order and calling for additional measures to “fully incorporate and integrate hardworking [illegal] immigrants in our country.”
As matters of principle, Napolitano strongly supports legally requiring private companies to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to nonwhites and women; the gradual expansion of Obamacare in the direction of a federally administered, single-payer healthcare system; the restriction of Americans' access to firearms by whatever means are deemed effective; massive federal spending on public projects as a means of helping the national economy recover from recession; the governmental imposition of carbon taxes on all industries; massive federal investments in the development of alternative (e.g., wind and solar) fuels; and the elimination of Voter ID laws, on grounds that they tend to suppress minority voting.
For an overview of Napolitano's voting record on a range of key issues, click here.