The revolution started at the top as First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden invited Cristian Avila to share the spotlight. The 23-year-old took part in a fast on the national mall last fall to bring attention to the broken immigration system.
A handful of other illegals peppered the crowd. For instance, Lorella Praella’s parents brought her across the border after she last a leg in a car accident in Peru more than 20 years ago. They never left. Praella was Rep. Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s (D-CA) guest. Rep. Jim Himes’s (D-CT) invited Lucas Codognolla. Rep. Joe Garcia’s (D-FL) invited Mayra Rubio Limon. Several members of the Illinois delegation invited Maria Torres and Estefania Garcia.
Each of the guests are protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA is a federal program enacted in 2012 that stopped deporting some undocumented young people and instead granted them temporary work authorization and a two-year reprieve from deportation.
Although his poll numbers are down, some citizens might have enjoyed listening to the speech at the capitol. For example, the union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and staff would love to have some face time with President Obama.
“According to news accounts, the president has once again invited illegal immigrants to the State of the Union — and yet the president still refuses to meet with ICE officers,” National ICE Council head and ICE officer Chris Crane in a statement. “We have a president who will provide those illegally in the [United States] with the seat of honor at one of the most important events of the year, but ICE officers who serve under him are unwelcome in the White House.”