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Lisbeth Mateo: A Dreamer is sworn in as an attorney

Maríaelena Martínez  |  Issue: September | October 2017
Lisbeth Mateo and eight dreamers crossed the border

PHOENIX – Lisbeth Mateo and eight dreamers crossed the border into Mexico and then demanded that President Obama allow them to return to the United States.
This action exposed the status of young people who were brought from children by their parents to the USA. And a movement of young people called Dreamers explodes.


Lisbeth Mateo a dreamer was recently sworn in as an attorney buy California State Senate President, Kevin de Leon. Lisbeth is one of a handful of undocumented attorneys. As a young student at Santa Monica College in 2002 she remembers walking around campus thinking she must be the only one without papers. The CA AB540, allowing some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at California colleges and universities, was new back then and students were afraid to identify each other and were going through the process alone.

Slowly students began coming together asking each other, “Why get a college degree? If we can’t work or even drive legally?”

No wonder when they heard president George W. Bush was considering a national Dream ACT to provide a path to legalization for students – “it was a no brainer”.

There were no organizations, no resources, no democrats looking to capitalize on these efforts, when Mateo created and made copies of a petition to support the national Dream ACT. Collecting 500 in just a couple of days.

Today the dreamers are an international symbol of migrations taking place all over the world. In part because Mateo and 8 others, together known and the “Dreamers 9” challenged President Barack Obama by crossing into Mexico and then demanding re-entry into the U.S. gained international attention.

Still young but already a 15-year veteran of the struggle for immigration reform, Lisbeth is the first to note that despite the efforts of thousands like her, Obama’s DACA- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is more vulnerable than ever.

A major lesson Mateo wanted to share was that “we should fight united, it was clear that the dreamers are the most sympathetic cases but we also know they will use us to justify deporting “criminals”, but who is defining what a crime is? A DUI? Someone with mental health issues? Someone who overstayed their visa?” A recent article in the Tribuno titled “We’re all Under Attack!” noted that Dreamers and even citizens have been detained by ICE.

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