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Harris was born in Oakland in 1964 and raised in a multicultural household. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, was a scientist from India and her father, Donald Harris, an economics professor at Stanford University, was born in Jamaica. Harris went to high school in Canada, where her mother worked as a hospital researcher and college professor. She returned to the U.S. to go to college at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C. and then went on to attend law school at the University of California, Hastings. Upon graduation, Harris stayed in the Golden State and worked for the Alameda County district attorney's office in Oakland. In 2003, she was elected San Francisco district attorney, a position that had never been held by a woman or person of color. During her 10-year tenure as the city's chief law enforcement officer, Harris spearheaded efforts to curb high recidivism rates among released prisoners and created a nationally recognized reentry program for nonviolent, first-time drug offenders. After winning a hotly contested race in 2010, Harris became California's first female attorney general, as well as the first Indian-American and Jamaican-American to hold the post. During her two terms, Harris' office implemented implicit bias training among officers and defended several state lawyers dogged by accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. After Sen. Barbara Boxer announced her retirement, Harris launched a bid for her seat. In 2016, she defeated Rep. Loretta Sanchez, also a Democrat, in a landslide and became the first woman of color to represent California in the Senate. During her two years on Capitol Hill, Harris has solidified herself as a leading critic of the Trump administration, known for her fierce questioning as a member of the Judiciary and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees. Harris announced her presidential candidacy on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 21, 2019.
In her short tenure in the Senate, Harris has compiled a liberal voting record and has overwhelmingly voted against President Trump's nominees for cabinet-level and other administration positions. Along with her tough, prosecutorial cross examinations during committee sessions, Harris has advocated for criminal justice and immigration reform and has contrasted her platform with Mr. Trump's agenda. Although she opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana during her law enforcement career in California, Harris announced her support for the Marijuana Justice Act crafted by Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey. The bill would remove marijuana from the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, withhold federal funding for states which continue to criminalize the substance, require courts to expunge convictions for marijuana use or possession and establish a federal fund to help low-income communities affected by the so-called "war on drugs." In October, Harris unveiled new tax legislation aimed at the middle class to give families up to $6,000 a year in refundable tax credits, which she will likely highlight on the 2020 campaign trail.
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