Benita Veliz became the first-ever undocumented immigrant to speak at a national party convention Wednesday night when she introduced talk show host Cristina Saralegui at the Democratic National Convention.
Veliz, a 27-year-old who came from Mexico to the United States as a child, spoke during the DNC about her story growing up as an American, graduating valedictorian of her high school, going to college at the age of 20, and avoiding deportation already once.
“I feel just as American as any of my friends or neighbors,” said Veliz. “But I’ve had to live almost my entire life knowing I could be deported just because of the way I came here.”
Veliz, who now has temporary residential status under President Obama’s executive order, urged him to pass the DREAM Act, which would allow many undocumented immigrants legal residency and citizenship if they attend college or perform military service, among other requirements.
This article was first published in Latinovations.