After President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, freshman Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas will deliver the Democratic response in Spanish.
Democratic leaders announced last month that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will deliver their party’s response to Trump’s address in English, and Escobar will follow it up with a Spanish-language version of the speech.
In the announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Texas congresswoman’s “values and vision beautifully represent our party and our country.” And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Escobar “has embodied the best of public service in her first year in Congress.”
Escobar is the first woman to represent Texas’s 16th Congressional District, which encompasses the city of El Paso and surrounding suburbs. She filled the seat formerly held by Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who unsuccessfully challenged Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for Senate in 2018.
Escobar first entered politics in 2006, when she was elected county commissioner of El Paso County. She was later elected county judge in 2010. Before that, Escobar worked as an English teacher at the University of Texas at El Paso.
She has been a vocal critic of Trump’s immigration policies. She is also an advocate for gun violence prevention measures, gaining prominence on the issue in the wake of a shooting at an El Paso Walmart that left 22 people dead last August.
The shooter told police he had been targeting Mexicans. Escobar linked the President’s rhetoric about immigrants to the violence, saying Trump was not welcome in the city after the attack.
“Words have consequences,” she said on MSNBC at the time. “And the President has made my community and my people the enemy. He has told the country that we are people to be feared, people to be hated.”
Escobar has been influential in the House Democratic freshman class since she entered Congress, winning a secret ballot election among her peers late last year to replace former Rep. Katie Hill as a freshman representative in Democratic leadership. She sits on the House Armed Services Committee, as well as the high-profile House Judiciary Committee.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Escobar was involved in the House’s impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conduct related to Ukraine.
Her husband, Michael Pleters, is a federal immigration judge who was appointed to the job by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. They have two college-aged children.