Hakeem Jeffries represents the diverse Eighth Congressional District of New York, an area that encompasses large parts of Brooklyn and a section of Queens. Serving his second term in the United States Congress, Rep. Jeffries is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Education and the Workforce Committee. He is also Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus. During the prior Congress, he served on the House Judiciary Committee Task Force on Overcriminalization. Presently, Rep. Jeffries co-chairs the bipartisan Intellectual Property Caucus.
In Congress, Rep. Jeffries has emerged as a tireless advocate for social and economic justice. He has worked hard to help residents impacted by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, reform our criminal justice system, improve the economy for hardworking Americans and make college more affordable.
Congressman Jeffries began the 114th Congress determined to lead in a bipartisan manner. At the outset, he teamed up with Rep. Peter King to pass the Slain Officer Family Support Act of 2015, a bill that extended the tax deadline so that individuals making charitable donations to organizations supporting the families of assassinated New York Police Department Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos could apply such tax deductions to the prior year’s tax return. President Obama signed the legislation into law.
On the heels of a nationwide outcry demanding meaningful police reform, Rep. Jeffries introduced the Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2015, legislation that will make the deployment of a chokehold unlawful under federal civil rights law. The chokehold has been banned by the New York Police Department for more than twenty years, and prohibited or discouraged by several major police departments throughout the country. Yet, it continues to be used by law enforcement, as in the death of Eric Garner. The chokehold is an unnecessary and uncivilized tactic that this bill will make unlawful.
In response to the tragic death of P.J. Avitto, a 6-year-old boy who was fatally stabbed nine times in an apartment building elevator in Brooklyn, Rep. Jeffries introduced P.J.’s Act. This bill is designed to increase access to federal funding for enhanced safety and security in public housing developments. The legislation will make the purchase, installation and maintenance of security cameras, enhanced lighting and locking mechanisms an eligible category in statute for the purpose of securing Community Development Block Grant funding.
In the previous Congress, Rep. Jeffries successfully passed H.R. 5108, legislation that established the Law School Clinic Certification Program of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) into law. This program had been operating in a pilot capacity since 2008, and allows students at participating law schools to gain experience in patent and trademark law while providing legal assistance to inventors, tech entrepreneurs and small businesses. The bipartisan bill, which was signed into law by President Obama, expands the current program by removing its “pilot” status, making it available to all accredited law schools in the country that meet the program’s eligibility requirements.
Rep. Jeffries was actively involved in the passage of a number of other key pieces of legislation, including the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (H.R. 152), a bill that provides billions of dollars in Superstorm Sandy recovery to the Eighth District and other affected areas. The Congressman also sponsored — and passed as part of the National Defense Authorization package — the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument Preservation Act. The law directs the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to study the feasibility of designating the Prison Ship Martyrs’ mausoleum in Brooklyn as a national monument. Consisting of a 100-foot-wide granite staircase and a central Doric column 149 feet in height, the monument in Fort Greene Park houses the remains of 11,500 Revolutionary War soldiers who were kept as prisoners of war by the British.
While he remains committed to working diligently in Washington on behalf of New York’s Eighth Congressional District, Rep. Jeffries also works tirelessly to keep in close contact with constituents. During the spring and summer, he holds “Congress on Your Corner” outdoor office hours throughout the district. At each stop, the Congressman sets up a table in front of a local post office or on a neighborhood corner and constituents are able to meet with him one-on-one without appointment. He also hosts telephone town hall meetings in the form of regularly-scheduled calls that provide an opportunity for participants to speak directly with the Congressman about local and national issues. On each occasion, thousands of people participate.
Prior to his election to the Congress, Rep. Jeffries served for six years in the New York State Assembly. In that capacity, he authored laws that included protecting the civil liberties of law-abiding New Yorkers during police encounters, encouraging the transformation of vacant luxury condominiums into affordable homes for working families, and improving the quality of justice in the civil court system.
In 2010, the Congressman successfully sponsored legislation that prohibits the New York Police Department from maintaining an electronic database with the personal information of individuals who are stopped, questioned and frisked during a police encounter, but not charged with a crime or violation. This law is widely regarded as the first meaningful legislative reform of the police department’s aggressive and controversial stop and frisk program. That same year, Rep. Jeffries sponsored and championed groundbreaking civil rights legislation to end prison-based gerrymandering in New York State, a practice that undermined the democratic principle of one person, one vote. With its passage, New York became only the second state in the country to count incarcerated individuals in their home communities for purposes of legislative redistricting, rather than in the counties where they are temporarily incarcerated.
Congressman Jeffries obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he graduated with honors for outstanding academic achievement. He then received his master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Thereafter, Rep. Jeffries attended New York University School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and served on the Law Review.
Following the completion of law school, Congressman Jeffries clerked for the Honorable Harold Baer Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He practiced law for several years at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, an internationally renowned law firm, and then served as counsel in the litigation department of two Fortune 100 companies, Viacom Inc. and CBS. He also worked as of counsel at Godosky & Gentile, a well-regarded litigation firm in New York City.
Rep. Jeffries was born in Brooklyn Hospital and raised in Crown Heights. He is a product of New York City’s public school system, having graduated from Midwood High School, and currently lives in Prospect Heights with his family.