NEWS ABOUT CATALINA
The latest news about Catalina’s campaign and our community.
This Woman Plans to Be One of the First Dreamers in Office
Catalina Cruz came to the US from Colombia at nine years old. Now, after a career of supporting politicians, she aims to start advocating for immigrants as a politician herself.
As Catalina Cruz strides into a coffee shop just off the main drag of Jackson Heights, she sports the easy smile of a local. After saying hi to the teenagers at the next table, she sits down opposite me, open and present. With her hands on the table, I notice her French manicure—a professional beigey pink—and compliment: “Your nails are gorgeous.” She waves a hand, pointing over her shoulder, “I always go to Fuchsia Nails on 37th, because I know they pay their workers.”
She should know. In 2015, Cruz was the director of the Exploited Worker Task Force under New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, which grew out of another task force she had created to protect workers in the nail salon industry. The initiative reached 80,000 workers and employers, and assessed $4 million in stolen wages, including those of the women who clip, scrub, and polish her own fingernails.
Cruz has street cred in Queens as a woman who gets things done. She most recently served as chief of staff for Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, a Queens politician who oversaw the city’s $82 Billion budget as the chair for the Committee on Finance and championed the Menstrual Equity program, providing free sanitary products in New York City public schools in 2017. In 2014 and 2015, while working for a New York City Councilman, Cruz oversaw and implemented the Unaccompanied Minors Initiative to prevent immigrant minors from being deported; and with the Mayor’s office, she implemented the rollout of NYCID, a municipal identification program that benefits New York City immigrants who may not have a driver’s license or social security number.
Now, Cruz is running for State Assembly in New York’s 39th district—which includes Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona—as a Democrat. If she wins the primary this September and the general election in November, she will become the third Dreamer—that is, someone who was brought to the US as an undocumented minor—to hold public office in the US, after Wendy Carrillo in Los Angeles and Ruben Kihuen in Nevada.