(CNSNews.com) – Illegal immigrant activist Benita Veliz was given a prime-time speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday night, where she championed President Barack Obama’s recent decision to stop enforcing certain aspects of immigration law.
Veliz, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, gave a short address to the convention audience, and then introduced Telemundo talk-show host Cristina Saralegui.
In her speech, Veliz claimed to be “from San Antonio, Texas,” saying that she was “like so many Americans.”
“My name is Benita Veliz and I’m from San Antonio, Texas. Like so many Americans, of all races and backgrounds, I was brought here as a child,” Veliz said. “I’ve been here ever since.”
However, her profile on the activist website dreamactivist.org reveals that she came to the United States from Mexico at age 8 on a tourist visa and that her family then illegally overstayed.
Beliz was profiled in a March 2009 editorial in the New York Times after she launched a public campaign to prevent her deportation after she was arrested in Texas, caught driving without a license. The Times editorial stated that Veliz had an ID card issued by the Mexican consulate.
Beliz has been an activist for the DREAM Act – a proposed law that would allow illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children to be granted legal status if they go to college or serve in the military – since college, where she wrote her honors thesis on the legislation, according to the Times.
“I know I have something to contribute to my economy and my country,” Veliz said on Wednesday, referring to America, not Mexico. “I feel just as American as any of my friends or neighbors.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which opposes illegal immigration, called Veliz’s appearance in Charlotte a “celebration of lawlessness.”
“In choosing to have someone who defiantly remains present in the United States in violation of federal law address the convention during prime time is nothing more than a celebration of lawlessness,” FAIR President Dan Stein said in a press release.
According to a press release from the illegal immigration activist group United We Dream (UWD), Veliz successfully fought deportation after UWD organized a petition drive to pressure the Department of Homeland Security. Despite avoiding deportation, Veliz remained an illegal immigrant.