Ana Ramirez recently became the first undocumented student elected to Western Washington University's Student Board of Directors, KING-TV reported.
"I literally cried," the 19-year-old Ramirez told the station at the Bellingham campus Wednesday. "I knew a lot of other people would be proud of me so that made me happy."
But her tears of joy were soon wiped away when the school told Ramirez she couldn't take office because she's not a United States citizen and would be violating federal law by doing so because it's considered "work," KING reported.
"Until or unless an undocumented student candidate receives DACA approval, that student cannot be employed by the University in any capacity," a school spokesman told KING in a written statement.
Former President Barack Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals law, which protects children of illegal immigrants, in 2012. President Donald Trump last Friday moved to keep DACA intact, which was an about-face from his campaign platform.
And Ramirez blames Trump for her decision to not apply early for DACA — as university officials urged her to do if she wanted to run for a student government position, KING reported.
"It was during a time when he was talking about repealing DACA," she told the station. "It costs $495 to apply. I didn't want to apply early and lose all that money."
Image source: KING-TV video screenshot
Ramirez believes Western Washington University should let her take office while her DACA paperwork is being examined, KING reported.
"I mean, I already won this election," she told the station. "There is no reason to take away this position. I'm fully capable."
When asked why the university should make an exception for her, Ramirez told KING, "The rules always need to be challenged. This is something that wasn't created for someone like me, or other undocumented students. That needs to change."
She told the station that she hopes to become a member of Congress some day — and that this experience is practice for upcoming battles.
Ramirez's campaign bio reads: "I’m running for VP for Governmental Affairs because I have a passion for politics and a commitment to fighting for the needs of students of color. Students of color are the most affected by the current political climate, and yet continue to be neglected. I believe we can best prioritize and fight for the needs of students of color through governmental affairs."