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California Appoints First Undocumented Immigrant to Statewide Post

Lizbeth Mateo / Facebook

In a first for California, the state has appointed an undocumented immigrant, attorney and immigrant rights activist Lizbeth Mateo, to a statewide post.

Mateo has been appointed to an advisory committee, the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee, which helps students from underserved communities go to college, the Washington Post reports.

Mateo was born in Mexico and was brought to the United States by her parents when she was 14. She learned English while in high school before going on to college and earn a law degree from Santa Clara University. She now has a private practice in Wilmington, California.

When thanking state senate president Kevin de Leon (D.), Mateo said she wasn't always so optimistic about her future.

De Leon said he appointed Mateo because she is someone who "embodies California values and the American dream."

The Post notes that the appointment appears to be another move by California to resist the Trump administration. It was finalized one day after President Donald Trump visited California to review prototypes for a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. De Leon condemned the trip as "a political stunt to rally his base around a stupid boondoggle."

Since Trump took office, several California officials — from representatives to mayors across the state — have spoken out against the president and vowed to fight back against an increasing number of immigration sweeps that ICE has carried out.

"California thrives because we welcome immigrants and innovators from across the globe," Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, wrote to the White House in a letter criticizing Trump’s proposed border wall.

Tensions between federal and state officials came to a head last month after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tipped off residents of the city to possible ICE raids. Last week, the Justice Department sued California for allegedly violating the Constitution with "sanctuary" policies that protect undocumented immigrants.

Mateo has long been an immigration activist. As a student at California State University, Northridge, she publicly advocated with other undocumented immigrants for the passage of the Dream Act.

Mateo was denied for the DACA program in 2015 because she briefly traveled to Mexico in 2013 as part of a campaign to see how border agents would react when they re-entered the country.