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Lucy Allain says she embodies the definition of American.
Allain, 20, has become an Internet sensation for confronting GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- who has vowed to veto the DREAM Act -- during a fundraiser for the former Massachusetts governor in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday.
“Why are you not supporting my dream?” Allain asked Romney as he was signing autographs at the Sheraton Hotel.
When Romney emphasized that he would not support anyone who “comes here illegally,” Allain fired back: “I didn’t come here illegally!”
Romney has pushed for a hard line on immigration, generally viewing any break for undocumented immigrants as a form of “amnesty” that would encourage even more illegal immigration.
He has also said that he would veto DREAM Act legislation, which would allow certain undocumented residents to become U.S. citizens if they were brought to the United States before age 16, have lived in the country for five years, graduated from high school or gained an equivalency degree and who joined the military or attend college.
A Romney presidency gives her chills, she said, for its promise of a unyieldingly tough treatment of undocumented immigrants, who number an estimated 11 million in the country.
“He doesn’t support immigration at all,” Allain told Fox News Latino on Wednesday.
“If he were to become president, he would support [immigration measures similar to] SB 1070 -- the Arizona law -- and the Alabama law into more states,” she added.
“Perú saw me come to the world, but America has seen me grow.”
Those laws are just two of several state-level immigration initiatives that seek to impose criminal penalties on being in the United States illegally. Parts of those laws have been blocked by federal judges from taking effect.
Allain said that she and her mother entered the United States legally, on a tourist visa, in 2002. She was 10 years old.
"I did not cross the border [unlawfully]," she said.
Allain, a freshman at Queensborough College with a 4.0 grade point average, has made the DREAM Act a priority in her life since she was 10, when she learned she was undocumented. The little girl who watched such typically American stations as the Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel began to feel different from other classmates. She got an increasingly deeper sense of the ramifications of her status as she saw her friends do things -- such as vacation in other countries -- that she and her mother could not.
She is among the growing number of undocumented youth who have risked all that comes with exposure to call for legislation that would allow them to legalize their status.
For the past four years she has been involved with “United We Dream,” a national organization that advocates for DREAMers. She is currently the nonprofit’s national coordinator.
Before the confrontation, Allain tweeted: "Mr. Romney are you ready for New York DREAMers?
Oh YOU will remember this visit, that I can promise you! #YouAreGoingDown! #GetReady!"
At the fundraiser for Romney, she made it a point to find him in the hotel and protest his immigration views.
Getting close to the candidate took some creativity.
“To get in there was really hard,” Allain said.
People in the role of gatekeeper for the event stopped Allain at several points.
“People kept asking me if I supported him, and I kept saying yes so they could let me go in further until I got to him.”
Romney’s supporters yelled at her for confronting the candidate, she said.
"These people are telling me to go back to my country,” said Allain.
“This tall blonde white chick told me to go back to Mexico and it just fired me up,” she added. “I turned around and I said I’m not Mexican. Not every immigrant is from Mexico.”
Allain says she thinks it’s an ironic joke that Romney’s father -- whose family lived in Mexico -- is being labeled Mexican.
“I think that is the most hilarious thing,” Allain said. “When I brought it up to [Romney], not on camera, he just kept on laughing and denying it. He was like 'I don’t know what you are talking about.'”
“[I] wanted Latino people [to]see that this is his real side,” Allain continued. “He made an ad in Spanish [targeting Latino voters], he makes it seem that Latinos are everything.”
Allain took to Twitter after the fundraiser face-to-face moment with Romney.
"I wouldn't have the courage I had last night to go confront him and all his anti-immigrant supporters if it wasn't for YOUR stories and the support from my mom, DREAMers , the allies, AND the most important one GOD!"
She wasn't always determined to fight for her cause, she said. For a long time, Alain said, she “felt defeated” because of her situation.
“This is something that I have to fight for," Allain said, referring to legal status. “I have the right to get it and I will fight until I do.”
“The DREAM Act is not an amnesty,” she added. “We do have to wait almost 10 years to get our green cards, which he [Romney] points out all the time.”
To be sure, Romney has not shut the door on all aspects of the DREAM Act. He has said that he would support provisions of the bill that allow people to earn permanent residency if they serve in the military.
"I'm delighted with the idea that people who come to this country and wish to serve in the military can be given a path to become permanent residents of this country," Romney said in Iowa.
Supporters of the DREAM Act see undocumented children as the most sympathetic group among the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. They argue that these immigrants had no say in the decision of others to bring them into the country unlawfully, and should not be penalized.
But critics of the DREAM Act call it a “backdoor to amnesty” that would encourage more foreigners to sneak into the United States in hopes of eventually being legalized.
For her part, Alain tries to the cling to hope that she will get her legal immigration status. Allain says she looks forward to graduating college, working on her journalism career and supporting other DREAMers. Univision star anchor, Jorge Ramos, is her mentor.
Quoting one of her favorite journalists, Pulitzer-prize-winning writer and undocumented immigrant José AntonioVargas, Allain said she is “an American without papers.”
“Perú saw me come to the world, but America has seen me grow.”