Saturday could mark a historic moment for the undocumented community in the United States.
The Democratic National Committee could appoint Ellie Pérez to be its first undocumented member in history, a move that would potentially allow the 26-year-old Dreamer from Mexico to take part in the 2020 presidential nomination process.
Pérez has been nominated to be a DNC member for the next four years, which includes the next presidential election cycle. If appointed, she could potentially become a superdelegate and get to cast a vote for the party’s nominee at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
“This nomination, this appointment to the DNC says so much about our party. We’re the party of opportunity, we’re the party of the people, we’re the party of change, and we’re the party of hope,” Pérez told Refinery29 on Friday afternoon. “We’re embracing the diversity of America and I think that’s the most important part.”
The nomination comes amid the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, including the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program of which Pérez is a beneficiary. While the opportunity to potentially influence the presidential nomination process in the future is “an amazing and iconic thing,” serving as a DNC member without being able to cast a ballot in the actual U.S. elections — including crucial local and congressional races — is bittersweet.
“I will be able to have a say in my national party, but I won’t be able to have a say in my local politics by casting a ballot,” she said. “That’s something that really hurts, because I believe that I should be able to have say. I’m Mexican by birth, but I’m American by choice.”
Pérez was 4-years-old when her parents brought her to Arizona from Veracruz, Mexico. When she obtained her DACA permit in 2012, she was able to work as an advisor for then-Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego. (Gallego is now the Phoenix vice mayor and Pérez still works for her.) During the 2016 presidential election, Pérez worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Besides Pérez’s nomination, the list of potential new members is incredibly diverse: According to the DNC, there was also an increase in LGBTQ representation, and the representation of millennials, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders doubled.
“DREAMers are our friends and neighbors and are essential members of their communities," DNC spokesperson Francisco Pelayo told Refinery29. “We would be proud to have Ellie as one of our DNC members, who will be part of the process of choosing our next Democratic candidate for President.”