As immigration reform continues to command attention from both lawmakers and President Barack Obama, one undocumented activist will likely hear Obama revisit the issue in person on Tuesday, having been invited to attend the State of the Union address.
“They called me and asked if I wanted to go and I said, ‘Yes, of course’,” said Julieta Garibay, who promotes education for younger immigrants eligible for the DREAM Act and the president’s more recent deferred-deportation work visa program for the advocacy group United We Dream (UWD). “I mean, it’s something that I watch on TV, so it’s exciting to be present
Garibay, who immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12 from Mexico, was invited by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX).
“He knows about DREAMers, he’s very supportive,” Garibay, a University of Texas graduate, told The Raw Story. “He strongly believes that DREAMers should be allowed to go to college and should be able to enter a profession. Being from Texas myself, it’s really exciting to hear congress members being supportive.”
Last week, members of the organization took part in a meeting between Obama and several advocacy groups, the latest instance in the push by members of both major political parties to enact new immigration guidelines. Both Obama and a bipartisan group of senators have introduced plans they have said they want to develop into new legislation this year.
One concern UWD had with the “Group of 8’s” plan, Garibay said, was its dependence on tighter border security before allowing for a streamlined immigration policy.
“For us, the border has been secured,” she said. “There’s been plenty of deportations already, and it continues to go on. It’s illogical for them to continue to use that rhetoric of, ‘Oh, we’ve got to protect the borders,’ because we feel that’s already done.”
The Obama administration carried out a record 410,000 deportations during the president’s first term. So while she said she was encouraged by his assurance to immigrant groups to pursue more comprehensive policies, what he does after the address will be key.
“We’re gonna continue to be on the forefront,” she said. “We’re gonna continue to meet with congress members, making sure that our stories are being heard.”
[Image courtesy of United We Dream]
Update: United We Dream said in an email to The Raw Story that Garibay is likely to be one of the first undocumented immigrants to attend the event, along with presidential invitee Alan Aleman.