The Democratic Party is set to name its first undocumented 'Dreamer' superdelegate

Ellie Pérez, of Arizona, will be the first undocumented person to cast a ballot for a presidential nominee in a primary contest. The announcement by the Democratic leadership comes at a critical time for Dreamers as the clock runs out in March for an Obama-era program that protects them from deportation.
19 Oct 2017 – 8:46 PM EDT
Ellie Perez speaks at an event for 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Crédito: Democratic National Committee

A 26-year-old Dreamer, Ellie Pérez, will be chosen Saturday as one of 75 new national delegates for the Democratic Party during its fall meeting which began Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Pérez, who is Mexican-born, will be able to vote as a superdelegate in the party's 2020 convention to nominate the Democratic presidential candidate, the highest any undocumented person has risen in the presidential election process.

Pérez's selection comes at a critical time for Dreamers after President Donald Trump's decision in September to end DACA, the executive order signed by Barack Obama that protects from deportation those undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Dreamers now need Congress to approve legislation before March to avoid being deported.

"It's really exciting and a big responsibility," Pérez told Univision News about her role in the election of the party's next presidential candidate.

The new 75 superdelegates will serve on the DNC for a four-year term and participate in the quarterly party summits with party members who are delegates by virtue of their status as elected officials.


“Dreamers are our friends and neighbors and are essential members of their communities. We would be proud to have Ellie as one of our national delegates, who will be part of the process of choosing our next Democratic candidate for President," said DNC spokesperson Francisco Pelayo.

The new list of superdelegates stands out for its diversity, with a transgender, 17 Latinos and several Native Americans, in addition to Pérez. The party is seeking to underline how it differs from the far less diverse Republican Party.

"This says a lot about the direction that the party is heading towards inclusion," the young immigrant said, though she added; "Democrats still have a long way to go to introduce diversity into the conversation."

Pérez, born in Veracruz, Mexico, came to Arizona with her parents when she was four years old. She became involved in politics through immigration activism during protests against that's state's draconian law SB1070, which came under fire for racial profiling. The law sought to require immigrants to carry their documents at all times, and show them on the slightest suspicion.


In 2012, thanks to DACA, she began working as an advisor for Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego. She also worked for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016 and participated as a page at the Philadelphia National Democratic Convention.


The list of independent super delegates was presented by the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, who in February became the first Latino elected to lead this body at the top of the party. The list will be voted on at the meeting that began on Wednesday and will run until Saturday.

Superdelegates enjoy greater independence than state delegates who are generally expected to vote for the candidate chosen in their state primary.

According to a source close to the DNC, chair Perez made a "historic" choice to present a list that truly reflected the diversity of the party.

The 75 delegates proposed by Perez, who was Labor Secretary in the Obama administration, will double the representation of certain minority groups that Democrats have traditionally included in their coalition.


"The list of nominated delegates this year reflects the unprecedented diversity of the Democratic coalition, for example by doubling millennial representation, increasing LGBTQ membership, and including for the first time in history an undocumented youth," said Francisco Pelayo, the DNC's spokesman for Hispanic media.

Pelayo added that the representation of Puerto Rico would also be increased "at a time when the Trump administration refuses to take responsibility for the millions of Americans who continue to suffer from a major humanitarian crisis."

There are a total of 17 Latinos from various states, including Lily Eskeleson Garcia of Utah, who chairs the National Teachers Association; Emmy Ruiz of Texas, who was instrumental in Clinton's victories in Nevada and Colorado and is a member of the LGBTQ community; and Leopoldo Martinez, of Virginia, a Venezuelan-American who chairs the Board of Directors of Latino Victory Project, the group co-founded by actress Eva Longoria.

Rubén Gamarra/EFE
2010 | A group of young undocumented immigrants from Massachusetts and New York protested in July 2010 in front of the White House in support of the Dream Act. That was the name given to a bill introduced in 2001 to legalize young immigrants who had arrived to the U.S. as children. It was never approved. Crédito: Rubén Gamarra/EFE
White House
2012 | Following Congress' inaction and seeking to fulfill the promise of immigration reform, the Obama administration announced DACA, the executive order that would protect hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation and grant them a temporary work permit. "They grew up as Americans and feel part of the country," Obama argued. Crédito: White House
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2012 | Bolivian Diego Mariaca, along with his mother Ingrid Vaca, was among the first to complete documentation to obtain DACA, in a Washington, D.C. office. Crédito: Getty Images
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2012 | Applications for DACA opened on August 15, 2012, which created huge lines of young people with their families at centers like this one in Los Angeles. Crédito: Getty Images
Michael Reynolds/EFE
2014 | Obama again used his executive power. He announced Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an extension of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program for those who did not qualify due to their age when it was first launched in 2012. Crédito: Michael Reynolds/EFE
2015-16 | But Obama's second attempt wasn't successful. In February 2015, a court order blocked DAPA and the DACA extension. It went on to the Supreme Court, which resulted in a tie in June 2016, leaving the two in legal limbo. The original DACA, which benefited some 750,000 young people, remained in effect. Crédito: EFE
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Win McNamee/Getty Images
2015 |President Barack Obama met with beneficiaries of the DACA program in the Oval Office in February 2015. Crédito: Win McNamee/Getty Images
2016 | The 2016 presidential campaign brought the promise of mass deportations and an end to Obama's executive actions. Immigration activists took to the streets and carried out hundreds of protests against the real estate magnate. Crédito: EFE
Lenin Nolly/EFE
2016 | Congressman Luis Gutierrez and several Democrats called for President Barack Obama to use his power to pardon the more than 750,000 undocumented immigrants covered by DACA before leaving the White House. He did not. Crédito: Lenin Nolly/EFE
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J. Scott Applewhite/AP
2017 | Given Trump's pledge to end executive action, Republican and Democratic lawmakers worked on a bipartisan bill to protect Dreamers from deportation for an additional three years. That was confirmed by Rep. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, during a press conference on Thursday, January 12, 2017. Crédito: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
2017 | In his first official press conference, White House spokesman Sean Spicer did not include ending DACA as a priority of President Donald Trump. Instead, priorities are the border wall and deportations of immigrants with criminal records, he said. Crédito: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Karen Ducey/Getty Images
February 17, 2017 | A protest outside the doors of a federal court in Seattle, Washington, against the arrest of Dreamer Daniel Ramirez Medina. Under the new government, several dreamers - whose permit had expired - have been arrested and even deported. Crédito: Karen Ducey/Getty Images
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Carolyn Kaster/AP
April 2017 |Trump has promised to find a humane solution for hundreds of thousands of DACA beneficiaries. In February, he vowed to treat Dreamers “with heart” during a news conference; in April, he said they could “rest easy” because he’d focus his deportation efforts on so-called criminals. However, in Trump's first 100 days, various Dreamers are arrested. Crédito: Carolyn Kaster/AP
April 28, 2017 | Lorella Praeli, one of DACA's most recognizable faces, is named the ACLU's new Immigration Policy Leader. The agency has turned courts and legislatures into a battlefield against Donald Trump and his immigration decisions.
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2017 | Amid fears that the Trump administration might do away with DACA, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have introduced legislation in recent months to protect Dreamers. Passing legislation in Congress to protect undocumented youth has long been an elusive goal, with a number of failed attempts since 2001. Crédito: Getty Images
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AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
June 29, 2017 | Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with nine state attorneys general and the governor of Idaho, threatened to sue the Trump administration if it does not cancel DACA by September 5. As they await a decision, Dreamers are on edge again. Crédito: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin