QUEENS — Dreamer Catalina Cruz won the Democratic primary for a New York State Assembly seat in Queens’ District 39 on Thursday.
Born in Colombia and raised in Queens, the 35-year-old defeat Assemblywoman Ari Espinal and Yonel Letellier Sosa in the primary elections with about 54-percent of the votes. Espinal previously took the seat in April during a special election after Francisco Moya moved to the New York City Council.
Cruz fought for tenant, immigrant and workers’ rights in her years as a lawyer and civil servant in both the Cuomo administration and the office of City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. When President Donald Trump was elected, she felt the causes she’d championed were in jeopardy, so she kicked off a campaign for office in District 39, where almost half the population is foreign-born.
Cruz, who became a U.S. citizen in 2009, said she is the “reflection of anyone in my community,” as she grew up undocumented, working more than 40 hours a week to get through college and law school and struggled with affordable housing — a struggle many in her district face.
If she wins the general election on Nov. 6, Cruz would be the first Dreamer to hold office in New York and the third Dreamer to serve in an elected office in the country.
PIX11’s Aliza Chasan contributed to this report.