Lizbeth Mateo: Undocumented Immigrant Appointed To Statewide Post In California

Rich PedroncelliAP Images

Lizbeth Mateo, an undocumented immigrant who came to the U.S. illegally with her parents when she was 14, has been appointed to a statewide post in California, the Sacramento Bee is reporting. Her appointment is believed to the be the first time an undocumented immigrant has ever been assigned to a statewide job in the Golden State.

In a decision announced Wednesday, California’s Senate Rules Committee appointed Mateo, a 33-year-old attorney and immigrant rights activist, to the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee. That particular committee helps underserved and low-income communities access higher education.

As Newsweek notes, Mateo’s appointment came the day after Trump visited California for the first time as president. He visited San Diego to look at prototypes for a possible border wall.

Senate President pro tempore Kevin de León praised Mateo’s appointment, while simultaneously appearing to take a shot at Donald Trump, who has not been known for his pro-immigrant stance.

“While Donald Trump fixates on walls, California will continue to concentrate on opportunities. Ms. Mateo is a courageous, determined and intelligent young woman who at great personal risk has dedicated herself to fight for those seeking their rightful place in this country.”

Mateo was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, and came illegally to the U.S. with her family when she was 14. Years later, she became the first person in her family to graduate from college, and she went on to study law at Santa Clara University law school. She passed the bar in 2016 and was officially sworn in as an attorney, by none other than de León himself, in 2017.

In 2010, at potentially great risk to herself, Mateo became an advocate for the passage of the DREAM Act, which would allow so-called “Dreamers” such as herself — that is, undocumented immigrants who came to the country illegally as children, with their parents — to be given a path to citizenship. In making herself a vocal advocate, she drew attention to the fact that she, herself, is an undocumented immigrant.

Similarly, she also helped a group of deported Mexican immigrants, given the name “The Dream Nine” by the media, return to the U.S.

Meanwhile, Trump has continued to condemn California’s immigration laws that, as he sees it, contradict federal law. Specifically, Trump has taken exception to the state’s granting of so-called “sanctuary cities,” where law enforcement officers and other officials are forbidden from helping federal authorities with immigration control.

“California’s sanctuary policies are illegal and unconstitutional and put the safety and security of our entire nation at risk.”