SACRAMENTO (CBSLA) – For the first time, the California State Senate has named someone living in the U.S. illegally to a statewide appointment.
The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday appointed Lizbeth Mateo, a 33-year-old attorney and immigrant rights activist, to an advisory committee to increase college access opportunities for California students from low-income families, according to a statement from Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon.
Mateo – who was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and came to Los Angeles with her parents at the age of 14 – attended Santa Monica College and earned her B.A. at California State University, Northridge, where she advocated for immigration rights, including the passage of the Dream Act.
She graduated from Santa Clara University law School in 2016 and passed the California bar last year, according to de Leon’s office.
The first in her family to earn a college degree, Mateo is now a private attorney with a practice based in Wilmington.
“One day after President Trump came to California to see prototypes of his border wall, the state Senate made history Wednesday by selecting the first undocumented resident for a statewide appointment,” read the press release from de Leon’s office.
“While Donald Trump fixates on walls, California will continue to concentrate on opportunities,” said de Leon (D-Los Angeles). “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.”
“While undocumented students have become more visible in our state, they remain underrepresented in places where decisions that affect them are being made,” said Mateo. “I welcome this opportunity to advise and help the Student Aid Commission achieve its goals.
In addition to advocating for DACA and immigration reform, Mateo has also expressed support on social media for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and claims to have represented Edith Espinal, an Ohio woman who sought to avoid being deported to Mexico and separated from her U.S.-citizen children by moving into a church offering her sanctuary.
As a member of the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee, Mateo will advise the Student Aid Commission.
The panel advises on efforts to increase post-secondary education opportunities for students from low-income families, those who would be the first in their family to attend college, or those from underserved communities with low college enrollment, according to de Leon’s office.
Some weren’t happy that someone with views like Mateo’s will have the ear of state lawmakers.