Young Benita Veliz made history Wednesday night, becoming the first illegal immigrant to address a party's political convention. She was there to introduce Cristina Saralegui, the famous Hispanic talk show host who is endorsing Obama this year—her first ever presidential endorsement.
But first, Veliz told her story, which she says is one of many: brought to the United States as an undocumented child, she said she grew up American to become a DREAM success story. Veliz graduated as valedictorian of her high school at the age of 16 and earned a college degree at the age of 20.
"I feel just as American as any of my friends or neighbors," Veliz said to the crowd. "We will keep fighting for reform but while we do we are free to work, study, and pursue the American dream."
When the DREAM Act stalled in Congress, President Obama issued an executive order to stop deportations of young undocumented immigrants like Veliz. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement were directed to focus on deporting immigrants with criminal records.
Chris Hayes commended the DNC for the "incredibly bold move" of putting Veliz on stage. The DREAMers are a "robust and vibrant movement," he said, with a "tremendous amount of moral and emotional force."
Hayes also pointed out that the Obama administration has actually increased the number of deportations, racking up more in one term than George W. Bush had in two. Obama also increased funding for security on the border. Despite those major concessions, however, Republicans still didn't budge on the DREAM Act. Obama's executive order and the Democrats' in-person DREAM emphasis Wednesday night could indicate the party's serious commitment to the movement's escalating momentum.