Undocumented Lawyer Appointed to State Post in California in First-Ever Move

17 March, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • California State Capitol building

Lizbeth Mateo, a 33-year-old attorney and immigration rights activist, on Wednesday became the first undocumented immigrant to be appointed to a state post in California.

De León, the author of California's "sanctuary state" law and the head of the committee that made Mateo's appointment, is running for the U.S. Senate. De Leon framed her appointment as a rebuke of Republican President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

De Leon announced Mateo's appointment the day after Trump visited California to view prototypes of his proposed border wall.

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.

Mateo will advise the California Student Aid Commission to help low-income and marginalized people attend college.

Mateo was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. at age 14 with her parents.


The Senate Rules committee does not have a record of ever before confirming a person living in the country illegally to a statewide position, according to de Leon's office. After completing her undergraduate degree at Cal State Northridge, she went on to earn her law degree at Santa Clara University in 2016.

Although she isn't a DACA recipient herself, Mateo has been a vocal advocate of protections for young immigrants. She went on to develop a passion for law and became the first person in her family to graduate from college, receiving her degree from Santa Clara University law school in 2016 and passing the California bar a year ago, according to her legal firm's website.

The move to appoint Mateo could be seen as a an act of defiance to the Trump administration which as cracked down on illegal immigration since Trump was sworn into office a year ago.

Twitter followers were not all happy about the appointment of Mateo. "You're taking the oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, while you are simultaneously breaking those laws, John C. Eastman, a constitutional law expert and former dean of Orange California's Chapman University law school said".

In a federal lawsuit filed last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions retaliated with a lawsuit against California over its "sanctuary state" policies, CNN reported. She said the Obama administration later denied her application for the DACA program, which allows qualifying young people brought to the country illegally as children to temporarily reside without the fear of deportation, as a result of the trip.

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