Lizbeth Mateo seems to be a woman that’s going places. She was the first person in her family to go to college. She has a law degree, and her own firm in metro Los Angeles. She was just appointed to a California state senate committee.
She’s also an undocumented immigrant.
It’s believed to be the first time in state history that an undocumented immigrant has been put on a statewide committee, and her appointment is rubbing some people the wrong way in a state known for thumbing its nose at President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
Mateo was appointed Wednesday to the Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee, which seeks to increase college opportunities for low-income students.
Her appointment was praised by state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, who also took a shot at the President.
“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,” de Leon said in a statement, according to CNN affiliate KCBS. “While Donald Trump fixates on walls, California will continue to concentrate on opportunities. 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.”
Mateo was born in Mexico and came to the US at age 14 with her parents. She graduated from California State University, Northridge, and got her law degree from Santa Clara University. She’s advocated for immigration rights, including passage of the Dream Act.
“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, according to KCBS. “I welcome this opportunity to advise and help the Student Aid Commission achieve its goals.
But on Twitter, there was a strong backlash to her tweet thanking de Leon for her appointment, with many questioning how someone in the country illegally can serve on a state committee.
Some state lawmakers don’t like the move either. Travis Allen, a Republican state representative who is also running for governor, said in a Facebook post talking about Mateo’s appointment that “the California Democratic Party now prioritizes illegal immigrants over California citizens.”
CNN has reached out to Mateo and members of the Senate Rules Committe, and is waiting to hear back.