Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has named Lorella Praeli, a former undocumented immigrant who is a prominent advocate for immigration reform, as its director of Latino outreach.
The 26-year-old Praeli is currently the advocacy and policy director of United We Dream, the biggest youth-led immigration advocacy organization in the nation. She was a prominent part of the group’s effort to push President Barack Obama to take executive action to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation three years ago.
And she knows the challenges faced by undocumented immigrants well: She was undocumented for more than a decade before obtaining a green card in 2012.
"We are thrilled to have Lorella Praeli, a DREAMer, join our team because of her courage and perspective in the fight for Latino families across the country,” Clinton campaign national political director Amanda Renteria said in a statement.
"Bringing Lorella into our campaign is the next step in making sure families aren't living in fear of deportation, all students have the chance to go to college, and that any comprehensive immigration reform ensures full and equal citizenship," she added.
Praeli’s appointment is the latest signal from the Clinton campaign that it will make a big push to attract — and turn out — Latino voters next year. Clinton surprised reform advocates when she not only endorsed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants at a recent roundtable event in Nevada, but also went further and said she would defend and expand upon Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Last week, Clinton also came out and said that DREAMers — young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children with their parents — should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
Frank Sharry, the executive director of the pro-reform group America’s Voice, noted that Praeli’s hire constituted another bold move by the campaign.
“This is historic. Hiring a Dreamer such as Lorella represents a milestone of sorts: it recognizes and elevates the central role that New Americans play in shaping the future of our great country,” he said.
“Alongside Hillary Clinton’s recent commitments on immigration reform and executive action in Las Vegas, today’s announcement is another powerful indication that the Clinton campaign gets how important Latino voters are in the 2016 election and that immigrant justice is key to winning over a community that will prove decisive in numerous swing states.”
According to NBC News, which first reported Praeli’s hire, her mother is currently undocumented. Her sister, Maria Praeli, confronted the president and First Lady Michelle Obama during a November 2014 trip to Connecticut, as Obama was preparing to unveil executive actions that would shield a broader scope of undocumented immigrants from deportation. Maria Praeli has protection from deportation under Obama’s 2012 executive action.
The Dream Action Coalition, another group made up of young people that advocates for reform, said Praeli’s hire was welcome news but cautioned the Clinton campaign not to employ her as a “political token.”
“We congratulate Lorella for her new position as she has unquestionably demonstrated an ability to get the job done and commitment to the Dreamer and immigrant community, the group said. “Nevertheless, we urge the Hilary [sic] campaign to allow her to continue the fight for our community she will be representing and not just be a spokesperson for campaign rhetoric.”
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.