Meet the Former Undocumented Immigrant Running for Congress to Fight Trump

In 1985, Wendy Carrillo's mother brought her to the US to escape the Salvadoran Civil War. Now, the human rights journalist is running for office.
January 20, 2017, 3:53pm

Last year, Wendy Carrillo drove from California to Standing Rock to help oppose the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. For two months, the longtime labor activist and former journalist camped out alongside the Sioux tribe and thousands of other people who were mobilized to fight for the environment and for indigenous rights. As the local police assaulted the encampment and arrested protestors en masse—reportedly shooting them with rubber bullets, mace, and grenades—she couldn't stop thinking about why no one in power was paying attention: Where's Congress? Where's the President? Where are the elected officials who are supposed to stand up for the will of the people? Despite every effort to suppress them, the protesters finally won a victory when the Army Corps of Engineers denied Dakota Access an easement to drill underneath the reservation's main source of water right before 2016 came to a close. It was then that Carrillo, 36, realized she no longer wanted to be on the defensive: She had just witnessed how police brutality goes completely unchecked, Donald Trump was officially on his way to becoming the president of the United States, and it was clear that the Democratic Party was imploding in the wake of its defeat. As she headed back home, she made the decision to run for US Congress as representative from California's 34th district, Los Angeles County. "I saw some of the most egregious violations against native people and Americans and people around the world by a militarized police state. As a human rights journalist who has been covering movements and global conflict and human rights violations in other places in the world, to see them and experience them in America created an incredible radical shift in my thinking about the political process," she told me over phone. "The continued politics-as-usual in Congress and the fact that we put pipelines and profits over people is just disturbing and not the country that I want." Read more on Broadly