Theory of change: Jayapal works to articulate values of America as a country of immigrants


For Washington State Sen. Pramila Jayapal, immigration is both a personal and political issue. Jayapal, who announced her run for Congress in January this year, has dedicated her career to immigrants rights activism and advocacy. She herself was sent by her parents from her native India to the United States for a better education when she was 16. In 2001, Jayapal founded OneAmerica, an advocacy group for immigrants in Washington state, originally with a mission of addressing the targeting of Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians that occurred in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Jayapal served as executive director of OneAmerica for over 10 years.

Jayapal is currently the only woman of color in the Washington State Senate. If she wins election to the 7th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, she notes that she will be one of few women of color there, and one of few immigrants. The International Examiner caught up with Jayapal to talk about her transition from activism to politics.