This spring Ana Ramirez became the first undocumented student elected to Western Washington University's Student Board of Directors.
It was one of the happiest days in the 19-year-old's life.
"I literally cried," she said on the Bellingham campus, Wednesday. "I knew a lot of other people would be proud of me so that made me happy."
Soon thereafter, however, the University told Ramirez she could not assume that office even though she won it fair and square.
"I mean, I already won this election. There is no reason to take away this position. I'm fully capable," she said.
Ramirez may be capable, but she is not a legal U.S. citizen.
She was brought here illegally by her farm worker father when she was just six-months old.
The University says Ramirez would be violating federal law by taking the position because it's considered "work."
"Until or unless an undocumented student candidate receives DACA approval, that student cannot be employed by the University in any capacity," said a University spokesman in a written statement.
DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals law signed by President Obama in 2012. It protects children of illegal immigrants.
But Ramirez didn't apply for DACA in time for the election. Her application is still under review. She thinks the school should allow her to take office while the paperwork is being examined.
When asked why should the university make an exception for her, Ramirez replied, "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."
University officials said they advised Ramirez to get her DACA application in early if she wanted to run for student office, but she failed to do so.
Ramirez blames the Trump administration for that.
"It was during a time when he was talking about repealing DACA," she said. "It costs $495 to apply. I didn't want to apply early and lose all that money."
Regardless, Ramirez is not giving up.
She hopes to go to Congress, one day, and says this is only practice for many fights to come.
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