Raul Ruiz was born to farmworker parents in Zacatecas, Mexico, on August 25, 1972. When he was a baby, his biological mother died, and the boy was subsequently adopted by his father’s sister, who raised him in Coachella, California. After obtaining a BS degree from UCLA in 1994, Ruiz went on to earn a Medical …
Raul Ruiz was born to farmworker parents in Zacatecas, Mexico, on August 25, 1972. When he was a baby, his biological mother died, and the boy was subsequently adopted by his father’s sister, who raised him in Coachella, California.
After obtaining a BS degree from UCLA in 1994, Ruiz went on to earn a Medical Doctorate in 2001, a Masters in Public Policy that same year, and a Masters in Public Health in 2007 — all from Harvard University. While attending Harvard in the 1990s, Ruiz joined the radical North American Indian Center of Boston as well as the United American Indians of New England (UAINE), the latter of which had close ties to the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party. On six separate occasions, Ruiz participated in UAINE’s annual “Day of Mourning” protest in Plymouth, Massachusetts — an event whose purpose was to promote the notion that white European settlers had committed genocide against Native Americans. At the 1997 demonstration, Ruiz and 24 other protesters clashed violently with police and were arrested. Ruiz eventually reached a settlement in which the charge of police brutality was dropped, thus saving him from a three-year prison sentence.
In 2012, the voters of California’s 36th Congressional District elected Ruiz to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he continues to serve as a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). Among his more noteworthy political supporters has been the organization J Street.
Ruiz has repeatedly exhorted his fellow members of Congress to support passage of the DREAM Act — legislation designed to legalize and eventually naturalize a large number of illegal-alien teens and young adults (“Dreamers”) who first came to the United States as minors. By Ruiz’s telling, the DREAM Act would “provide our students who are in the United States through no fault of their own the opportunity to get a high-quality education, help grow our economy, serve this country in our military, and contribute to the future of the only nation they have ever called home.”
In the wake of a series of November 2015 terrorist attacks in which ISIS jihadists, some of whom were carrying Syrian passports, launched a series of coordinated bombings and shootings that killed 130 people in Paris, Ruiz criticized a number of House Republicans who urged the U.S. to employ greater caution in admitting refugees from war-torn, terrorism-ravaged nations in the Middle East. Lamenting that “some leaders in our nation are allowing fear and political ambition to govern their actions,” Ruiz accused Republicans of “turning their backs on refugee victims of terrorism,” which he said “runs counter to the fundamental principles our nation was founded on.”
Ruiz was one of many Democrats who boycotted the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January 2017. Asserting that he himself had no respect for Trump, and that Russian interference in the election had played a role in Trump’s victory, Ruiz stated that he did not consider Trump to be a “legitimate president.”
When Trump in 2017 called for the termination of former President Barack Obama‘s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action — which had conferred temporary protection from deportation upon some 800,000 illegal aliens — Ruiz said that “ending DACA goes against the very core of our values as Americans.” “Rather than ending the DACA program and tearing families apart,” he expanded, “we should instead work together towards comprehensive immigration reform.” In January 2018, Ruiz co-sponsored a bill called the USA Act, which aimed to provide “an earned path to citizenship” for “Dreamers,” whom the congressman described as “incredible young people who only know America as their home.”
When President Trump in 2018 issued an executive order banning transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, Ruiz called it a “misguided” decision that “goes against our values as a nation, legal precedent, and dishonors the service of our troops.”
For a number of years, Ruiz has had a close relationship with Hollywood actor/activist Sean Penn. In 2010, the pair traveled to Haiti to help administer humanitarian aid to the victims of a devastating earthquake that had killed scores of thousands of people on the island. In 2012, Penn attended a campaign fundraiser for Ruiz and donated $17,600. And in 2013, Ruiz spoke at the second annual Sean Penn and Friends Help Haiti Home Gala. After Rolling Stone magazine in January 2016 published the transcript of a clandestine interview that Penn had conducted with the notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — an interview that some critics described as a sympathetic and “fawning portrayal of a ruthless criminal” — House Republicans called on Ruiz to give up Penn’s aforementioned $17,600 campaign contribution, and to donate that money to heroin-treatment clinics located in Ruiz’s congressional district.
For an overview of Ruiz’s voting record on a variety of key issues, click here.
For additional information on Raul Ruiz, click here.
Further Reading: Biographical information at Votesmart.org, Ruiz.house.gov, and Keywiki.org; “Raul Ruiz’s Political Prescription” (UCLA Magazine, 1-1-2014); “Immigration” (Ruiz.house.gov); “Dr. Ruiz Statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis” (11-19-2015); “Dr. Ruiz: Ending DACA Goes Against Our Values as Americans” (9-5-2017); “Dr. Ruiz Announces Bipartisan DACA Agreement” (1-16-2018); “El Chapo Speaks” (by Sean Penn, Rolling Stone, 1-10-2016).