“I can’t deny that this was a burden, having to prove my citizenship…When we see this type of harassment, we can’t stand on the sidelines.”
Raquel Terán, who was elected to Arizona’s legislature last week, won a battle against a woman who tried to stop her from taking office next year by challenging her U.S. citizenship in court.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed on Wednesday the lawsuit Alice Novoa filed just after Terán won her race for state legislator in the 30th Legislative District in Phoenix, where over 50 percent of the district’s voting age population is Latino.
Novoa, who in the past has alleged that immigrants are planning a secret plot “to take back the Southwest” for Mexico, claimed in the lawsuit that Terán was not born in the United States and was therefore ineligible to take office.
“I can’t deny that this was a burden, having to prove my citizenship, but we are going to be moving forward. At the end of the day, I’ll be able to be sworn in the Arizona Legislature on January 14th,” Terán told reporters outside the courthouse. “I now have the opportunity to work for my constituents from District 30, for better schools, better jobs, instead of focusing on a baseless lawsuit.”
In a subsequent phone call with NBC News, Terán said she thought the lawsuit was part of a larger pattern of discrimination that other Hispanics in the state have experienced.
“Kids are going through this type of harassment in their schools, [and] playgrounds, and workers have to go through this with their bosses,” she said. “These are things you might experience as a candidate knocking on doors. Sometimes it’s subtle, but sometimes it’s as direct as this lawsuit challenging your status. It is important that we denounce this.”
This was not the first time Novoa, who unsuccessfully ran for Arizona secretary of state as a Republican write-in candidate, sued Terán and challenged the state representative-elects citizenship.
By Nicole Acevedo for NBC NEWS
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