Politics

Meet the Least Familiar Headliner at the Democratic Convention

Dreamer activist Astrid Silva to speak on opening night

Dreamer activist Astrid Silva first came to the U.S. with her parents from Mexico when she was 4 years old. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There's only one boldface name on the first list of Democratic National Convention speakers that won't be immediately recognizable across the country.  

That's unless you have been following the campaign for granting legal status to undocumented immigrants or spending a lot of time around the Senate.  

[ Missing from the DNC Speaker List: Potential VP Nominee ]  

As the Los Angeles Times has written , Silva handed off a note to current Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada back in 2009 as he was campaigning. And when Reid actually read the letter, it sparked a rather unusual friendship that became a partnership.  

Silva's story has been told many times by now, including by President Barack Obama. She came to America in 1992 with her parents from Mexico when she was 4 years old. And so, she ended up being raised in Nevada without papers or legal work prospects.  

"They said no when I wanted to be a cheerleader. They said no when I wanted to attend a magnet school. They kept saying no. In my teen angsty way, I was annoyed. I thought they were being unfair," Silva wrote about her parents in a 2014 opinion piece in USA Today. "As I grew up, I started to understand that they weren't being unfair, they were afraid. They were afraid they'd have to show papers and people would discover we were undocumented."  

If the DREAM Act had passed, she would have been protected. Since then, Silva has received a work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA immigration program, introduced by the Obama administration in 2012.  

Silva is currently the organizing director at the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. She has testified before Congress and made frequent appearances to push for expanded deferred action and an overhaul of the immigration system.  

But appearing as a highlighted speaker on the opening night of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia on July 25, particularly in contrast to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump's pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, should give Silva her biggest megaphone yet.  

Astrid Silva meets with Sen. Harry Reid in his Capitol Hill office in June 2013. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Astrid Silva meets with Sen. Harry Reid in his Capitol Hill office in June 2013. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The other headliners the convention committee and the campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton have planned for Monday night? First Lady Michelle Obama and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.  

But on a night where the convention organizers say the theme will be, "United Together," Silva just might steal the show.  

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski .

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.