Lorella Praeli might have been the only Clinton campaign worker who wasn’t going to vote for Hillary.
But that just changed.
Praeli, Clinton’s Latino outreach director and a former undocumented immigrant, became a U.S. citizen on Tuesday, culminating a lengthy journey that began when her family moved to the United States from Peru when she was 10.
For almost 13 years, Praeli lived in the U.S. without legal status, graduating from college with summa cum laude honors and becoming a DREAMer activist in a youth-led movement that advocates for a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country. Citizenship is a dream come true for the former DREAMer.
“I don’t have the words,” Praeli told Fusion ahead of Tuesday’s ceremony. “I feel overwhelmed with emotion about what the journey has been and how special this moment is.
“I’ve been looking forward to this moment for so many years.”
President Obama presided over the citizenship ceremony at the National Archives in Washington D.C., where Praeli joined dozens of people from over 25 countries.
Praeli’s journey to the United States began after her family moved to the United States to help her seek better medical care. She lost her leg in a car accident in Peru at the age of 2.
After living for years without a legal status, Praeli obtained a green card in 2012 through marriage. Praeli’s sister is a recipient of the DACA program and confronted Obama during a November 2014 trip to Connecticut as he was preparing to unveil executive actions that would shield a broader scope of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Praeli’s mother, however, remains undocumented.
“This wasn’t easy,” Praeli said. “It’s only possible because of the sacrifices my mother made.”
Praeli is one of two DREAMers to take a high-profile role in a presidential campaign. Cesar Vargas, an undocumented immigrant who became the first without legal status to be approved to work as a lawyer in New York, has joined Bernie Sanders’ Latino outreach team.
Praeli said she was especially moved to become a citizen at what she called such a “critical juncture.”
“It’s special for a number of reasons,” Praeli said. “You have a candidate on the right demonizing immigrants and instilling fear and xenophobia.”
Praeli said her thoughts remain the millions of other undocumented immigrants who are still waiting to get legal. “It is my deepest desire that they too will get to experience everything I’m experiencing and everything I’m feeling.”