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These California Lawmakers Are Bringing DACA Recipients As Guests To Trump's Congressional Speech

Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán and Roque Pech. (Photo courtesy of Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán)
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In a pointed move against President Trump’s immigration rhetoric, several California lawmakers are bringing DACA recipients as their guests to Trump’s presidential address to the Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday night.

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients are undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and requested deferred action on their immigration status. The Obama-era policy allows those who qualify to be lawfully present in the US during their DACA period, giving the opportunity for work authorization and higher education. These guests also stand in stark contrast to Trump’s own choice of guests, which he announced yesterday via a White House press release. His invitees include 3 people whose family members were killed by undocumented immigrants, in an effort to reinforce his anti-immigration stance.


Yuriana Aguilar (Courtesy of Senator Kamala Harris)
Freshman Senator Kamala Harris, who has already spent her short time in office vocalizing heavy dissent to the President, has announced she will bring researcher Yuriana Aguilar. Aguilar was born in Mexico and raised in Fresno, after which she earned a doctorate in the Quantitative Systems Biology Program at U.C. Merced. She is the first DACA recipient to gain a PhD, and she now is an instructor at Rush Medical College in Chicago. In a post to Senator Harris’ Facebook page, Aguilar describes how she “hope[s] to one day have my own research lab where I can study sudden cardiac arrest syndrome.”Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán, who represents CA District 44 (South L.A. and the LA Harbor Region), announced she will bring DACA recipient Roque Pech to the address. Pech is a teacher and a member of the Wilmington Neighborhood Council, an area in Barragán’s district. In a press release, Barragán explains how “Roque is just one good example of the continuing contributions immigrants provide to our country. Roque chose to become an educator because he wanted to give back to the community and help other immigrants.”

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Congressman Lou Correa, who represents CA District 46 (Anaheim and Santa Ana), announced in a floor speech that he will bring Santa Ana resident Eliel Aguillon to the address. Aguillon is a sophomore at Santa Ana college who arrived in the US when he was seven years old. Congressman Ami Bera, who represents CA District 7 (Eastern Sacramento County), announced that he also will be bringing an undocumented student to the address. His guest is Alfredo Rivas, who moved to the US with his family when he was 13 years old. While he didn’t receive specific DACA benefits, he was able to gain in-state tuition as a result of California’s 2011 DREAM Act.

The address isn’t an official State of the Union address, but rather a moment for the President to present his hopes for the future to try and galvanize support among the legislative branch. Based on his interview with Fox and Friends this morning, however, it’s likely Trump will treat the address like the State of the Union despite having only spent one month in the presidency. 45’s few weeks in office have focused heavily on immigration, both via the travel ban and his executive order on border policy, and these guests indicate that the focus will continue into tonight’s event as well.

Annie Lloyd is a writer who runs a blog and newsletter about the history and future of this city, and you can often find her rambling about the L.A. dream over larb at Night Market Song.