- Democratic U.S. congresswoman from Florida
- Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Believes that illegal immigrants should be offered a path-to-citizenship
- Rejects the term “illegal alien” as offensive
- Views America as a nation aash in racism
- Says: “The real enemy is the Tea Party”
- Opposes Voter ID laws
See also: Democratic Party Congressional Black Caucus
Congressional Progressive Caucus
Frederica Wilson was born on November 5, 1942 in Miami, Florida. She earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Fisk University in 1963, and a master's degree in that same field from the University of Miami in 1972. Over the course of her professional life, Wilson worked variously as a teacher and assistant educational coordinator at Head Start Miami, an administrator at Skyway Elementary School in Miami Gardens, and executive director of the Office of Alternative Education & Dropout Prevention at Miami-Dade County Schools. She was also a member of the Miami-Dade County School Board from 1992-98.
Wilson launched her political career in 1998, when she began a four-year stint in the Florida State House of Representatives. She then served in the Florida State Senate from 2003-11. And since 2011 she has held a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Florida's 17th Congressional District from 2011-13, and the 24th Congressional District thereafter. She is a Democratic member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Describing herself as a “voice for the voiceless,” Wilson believes that: women should be entitled to unrestricted abortion rights, including the provision of government subsidies for those who cannot afford the procedure; illegal immigrants should be offered a path-to-citizenship; any restrictions on immigration are essentially racist efforts to prevent Hispanics and other nonwhites from entering the country; the expansion of the U.S. military would be a misguided use of resources that ought to be spent instead on social-welfare programs; affirmative action in employment and academia is a necessary means of compensating nonwhites for historical injustices that they and their ancestors suffered; school vouchers are unjustified because they siphon vital resources away from public education; the availability of firearms should be restricted by any means necessary; and high earners should pay dramatically higher income-tax rates than lower- and middle-class people.
In August 2011, Wilson attributed high black unemployment rates, in part, to societal “racism”—as well as to corporations “shipping jobs overseas,” and to the fact that many African Americans have “no access to technology.”
At a Miami town hall meeting that same month, Wilson made plain her contempt for conservatives. “Let us all remember who the real enemy is. The real enemy is the Tea Party. The Tea Party holds the Congress hostage. They have one goal in mind, and that's to make President Obama a one-term president.”
In the aftermath of the highly publicized February 2012 incident where a “white Hispanic” named George Zimmerman shot and killed black teenager Trayvon Martin, Wilson said, contrary to all evidence of what had happened, that “Trayvon was hunted down like a rabid dog. He was shot in the street. He was racially profiled.” At a Congressional forum in March of that year, Wilson proclaimed that Zimmerman should be arrested “immediately for his own safety.” Attorney and best-selling author Ben Shapiro noted at the time: “There are no legal grounds upon which somebody can be imprisoned for his or her own safety, unless they are actually a threat to harm themselves, which is not the case here. In fact, the Constitution expressly forbids such measures under the Fourth Amendment … The only excuses for a criminal arrest in America are probable cause or an arrest warrant based upon probable cause. Arresting citizens 'for their own safety' smacks of tyranny.”
When Zimmerman was eventually acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in a July 2013 trial, Wilson lamented that “until we pass meaningful laws against profiling,” “little black boys and big boys, and black grown men, will continue to be singled out and arrested for driving while black, shopping while black, walking while black, eating while black, and just being plain ol’ black!”
In July 2013, when some Republicans were proposing a budget cut of 0.5% in the fraud-infested Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Wilson exhorted her fellow legislators to reject such a measure. Depicting SNAP as “a mainstay in the lives of so many Americans who are just trying to get by,” she said that any cuts to the program would be “wrong,” “punitive,” and “cruel.”
In January 2015, Wilson objected strenuously when Republican House Speaker John Boehner—without first asking President Obama for his approval—invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress on March 3rd about the gravity of the growing Iranian nuclear threat and his “profound disagreement” with the deal that the Obama Administration was pursuing with Iran. When asked if black politicians saw Netanyahu's speech as an insult to Obama, she replied: “I think they kind of think it is.”
By Wilson's reckoning, Voter ID laws are designed not to safeguard the integrity of political elections, but rather to “disenfranchise … minority voters.” “All of a sudden after the 2008 election, these [voter ID laws] miraculously appear,” she said in early 2012. “Why? Because we have a black president in the White House and it is to stop all of the people of color from … coming out to vote.”
Similarly outspoken on the matter of immigration reform, Wilson lauds the “hardworking immigrants” who “arrived here both with and without documentation” to “enric[h] our society and [make] tremendous contributions to our economy.” Asserting that America has a moral obligation to create a path-to-citizenship that will allow illegals to come “out of the shadows,” she laments that the existing, “broken” immigration system has: (a) prevented “millions of people … from reuniting with their family members or contributing to our economy,” and (b) “deprived” them of “the basic legal rights that our Constitution enshrines.” Wilson supported President Obama's executive actions to prevent deportations—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)—as examples of “true leadership” on the issue. “There is no such thing as an illegal person,” says Wilson. “Every person on our shores deserves the same rights and the opportunity to pursue the American Dream.”
Rejecting the term “illegal alien” as offensive, Wilson in 2007 introduced a bill in the Florida State Senate stipulating that “a state agency or official may not use the term ‘illegal alien’ in an official document of the state.” “To me an alien is somebody who is from another planet,” she said. “There are so many other synonyms that would be more dignified for human beings.” “All of us are immigrants except the American Indian,” Wilson added. “Now how would we like it if they called us aliens? The only people who should not be called that [immigrants] should be American Indians.”
For an overview of Wilson's voting record on a range of issues during her years in Congress, click here.
For additional information on Wilson, click here.