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Wendy Carrillo, whose mother brought her to the country from El Salvador illegally, enters race for Becerra seat

Wendy Carrillo is running in the 34th Congressional District to replace Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles). (Ray Pok/ Carrillo campaign)
Wendy Carrillo is running in the 34th Congressional District to replace Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles). (Ray Pok/ Carrillo campaign)

A civic and labor activist and journalist who had been in the country illegally is joining the race for the 34th Congressional District.

Wendy Carrillo, 36, a Democrat from Boyle Heights, announced her plans to run in a post on Medium Monday.

Carrillo said in the post her parents brought her to the United States from El Salvador as a child. After learning she was not legally in the United States at age 13, Carrillo became a U.S. citizen before her 21st birthday. (Article 1 of the Constitution requires a person be a U.S. citizen for seven years to run for Congress.)

"I was fortunate while so many others haven’t been. I take that blessing very seriously," she wrote. "Before my 21st birthday, I became a citizen and for a few years I was the only voting member in a family of seven."

Raised in City Terrace, Carrillo attended El Sereno Middle School, Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles College and received a bachelor’s degree at Cal State  Los Angeles and a master’s degree at USC. She was the host of "Knowledge Is Power" on Power 106-FM.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) is planning to vacate the seat after being officially nominated as the state's next attorney general. Former Assembly Speaker John A. Perez  announced his plans to run for the seat last week. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, a Democrat from Echo Park, joined the race Monday.

"Together, we can build a campaign about the possibilities of what can be and what should be," Carrillo said in a statement. "I’m choosing to run because I want a seat at the table to advocate for the people who need it most. Public service is a privilege, not a game of musical chairs. I plan to put the people first.”

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