Meet the Woman Taking on Her Former Boss, the Prison Industry, and Big Oil’s Fave Democrat

Jessica Cisneros, 26, hopes to unseat Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)

Adriana Maestas
ZORA
Published in
9 min readAug 5, 2019

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Courtesy of Jessica Cisneros

JJessica Cisneros and Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) are not strangers to one another. In 2014, Cisneros was an intern in Cuellar’s Washington, D.C., office as an undergraduate student at the University of Texas, Austin. She remembers being one of just a few people who were from Texas’ 28th District. Fewer than half of the people in the office were people of color.

People were taking notice of her ambition even as an intern. A staff member for Cuellar at the time referred to Cisneros as “Congresswoman Jess” because of her energy and drive, which didn’t please the boss, who suggested that she adjust her goals to a lower office.

When Cisneros worked for Congressman Cuellar, she was initially excited to see the legislative process and how it affected people in the district back home. But she soon realized that Cuellar was silent on many issues that she perceives as being important to the people in the district, such as poverty, health care access (especially for women), immigration, and the environment.

Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, Cisneros is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who came to the United States to seek urgent medical care for her older sister. Her sister was able to obtain the medical care that she needed in the United States and is now thriving as an adult. This 26-year-old immigration attorney witnessed firsthand how her family and others like them in the region struggle to make a better life for themselves. Her father used to be a farmworker, and now he’s a truck driver. Her mother is a stay-at-home mom.

Texas’ 28th Congressional District spans nine counties, including Bexar, Wilson, Atascosa, La Salle, McMullen, Webb, Zapata, Starr, and Hidalgo. The district is 77% Latino, with an overwhelming majority of those being Mexican American. Laredo specifically sits across the border from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and is over 95% Latino; it is one of the least ethnically diverse cities of its size in the United States. The relationship with Mexico is important to the region, and just this year, Laredo was ranked as the number one trade port in the

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Adriana Maestas
ZORA
Writer for

Southern California based freelance writer