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For Julieta Garibay, an advocate and undocumented immigrant, being able to sit before the president reminded her of just how far those without legal status have come.
Ms. Garibay, who will be the guest of Rep. Marc Veasey (D) of Texas, was talking to a friend hours before the speech and recalled joining the movement in support of the DREAM Act – which would allow the children of undocumented immigrants a special path to legal status – eight years ago, “when it was very scary to even share my story because it wasn’t normal to say ‘I’m undocumented and unafraid,’ ” Garibay says. “And [now] I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to be sitting next to the very people who vote and who make immigration reform possible.’”
Garibay is too old to qualify for the deferred action program announced by Obama last summer, which offers a two-year stay of deportation and the ability to obtain a work permit, and so remains in immigration limbo.
But as someone who came to America 20 years ago as a youth, she can hardly believe she’s carrying the DREAMer banner all the way into Congress.
“It feels like such a huge responsibility,” she says. “It’s going to be an unforgettable.”
Binding the two groups together is the hopeful feeling that Obama will help usher through Congress legislation in support of their respective causes.
“Please,” said Ms. Nottingham, addressing both the president and members of Congress, “don’t let us down.”