Is This Squad Member’s Office Committing a Federal Crime?

In March 2019, the most well-known member of Congress was also one of its newest: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). She had not yet been elected officially when, in October 2018, she was featured in glowing articles for the posh lifestyle magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair. Representing a district straddling parts of the Bronx and Queens, AOC is now well-known for her impassioned rants both from the House floor and from her Instagram feed, where she pontificates from her tony D.C. condo on behalf of illegal immigrants (such as DACA applicants and ICE detainees) and the fight for a $15 minimum wage. 

Her antics have earned her admiration from supporters, but she has also earned the mockery of her opponents, notably after she was pictured crying against a chain link fence outside an ICE facility, out of sight of the detainees. Now reelected to her third term, could Ocasio-Cortez have graduated from the work of advocating on behalf of illegal immigrants to now employing them?

According to Laura Bejder Jensen, a Danish graduate student in journalism writing for the Columbia School of Journalism’s online news website and The Good Men Project, a media outlet affiliated with Salon, that might be the case.

Setting out to look at the lives of day laborers, Jensen came across a group of women from Central America who gather each day at the same street corner in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg to await employment for the day. They tell stories of adverse pay and working conditions, most of them avoiding giving their full names—except for one. 

Merced Aguilar is described as a Mexican immigrant who has been able to land steady employment with the same clients. One of them is “U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign office in the Bronx.” 

If her office employed this person without her lawful status being confirmed with an I-9 immigration form, the office could be subject to both criminal and civil penalties, depending on the pervasive nature of such violations.

This reporter has reached out unsuccessfully to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign office to inquire whether Aguilar’s claim is true, what her immigration status is, and what her gross pay terms are. If, in fact, this woman is being employed at the campaign office, it would be quite ironic given Ocasio-Cortez’s past emphasis of her family’s humble origins, including her mother cleaning houses to make ends meet.

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About Ray McCoy

Ray McCoy is an independent journalist living in the Midwest. His work has also appeared in American Thinker and The Federalist. You can subscribe to receive his stories directly through the "Razor Sharp News Chronicle."

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images