Tomorrow is the State of the Union, and while Dreamers and other immigrants have been invited as guests for years, tomorrow will be something special. With DACA running out of time and no Dream Act in sight, dozens of Dreamers have been invited this year by members of Congress from across the country. Speaker Pelosi has already said that she would “fill the balcony” with Dreamers and other immigrants whose lives have been upended by Trump’s immigration policies. Below is the list of Dreamers invited to this year’s State of the Union, courtesy of fwd.us:
Adrian Escarate, Professional Tennis Coach, Biltmore Tennis Center (Miami, FL), Guest of Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
Adrian was born in Santiago, Chile and moved to the United States when he was 3 years old with the hope that his family would have a better life. Initially, his parents had only intended to live in Miami for five years so that they could work and save enough money and ultimately return to Chile. However, after years of assimilation, Miami became their permanent home. Growing up, Adrian played competitive tennis while also achieving great academic accolades during his primary schooling. Adrian was also able to attend secondary schooling at University of North Florida and St. Thomas University as a student-athlete by playing on the men’s tennis team at both universities. Although undocumented, he was able to attend school with private scholarships and graduated Cum Laude Honors from St. Thomas University in 2011 with a Degree in Communications Arts and a minor in Psychology. It was a great accomplishment, but unfortunately he could not exercise his degree because of his undocumented status. Thankfully, when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was passed in the summer of 2012, Adrian was able to acquire a work permit, social security number, and a Florida Driver’s License. DACA changed his life because he finally felt like he was somewhat out of the shadows of his immigration status and felt like he could give back to the American society.
Aldo Solano, Policy Director, Oregon Latino Health Coalition (Woodburn, OR), Guest of Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Aldo moved to the United States from Colima, Mexico when he was just six years old. He grew up in one of the Farmworker Housing Development Corporation (FHDC) affordable housing communities in Woodburn, OR. At 15, Aldo started volunteering at FHDC’s after school program and later interned for its Funds Development Department, creating his pathway to a career in community development and a passion for social equity. One year after graduating from Woodburn High School, Aldo became a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient. Thanks to this program, Aldo has been able to continue to develop his leadership skills and serve his community. He has extensive experience with electoral and community-based organizing work around the areas of farmworker rights, immigrant rights, youth empowerment, and education. Aldo currently serves as the Policy Director for the Oregon Latino Health Coalition (OLHC), where he was part of the team that helped pass state legislation that extends health care coverage to undocumented children in Oregon.
America Moreno Jimenez, Teacher, Sanderson High School (Raleigh, NC), Guest of Congressman David Price (D-NC)
America immigrated to the United States when she was two years old and over the past 22 years she has lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. Thanks to the DACA program, America has been able to graduate from undergrad and graduate school and become an English as a Second Language teacher at Sanderson High School in Raleigh.
Ana Campa Castillo, Student, Joliet Junior College (Bolingbrook, IL), Guest of Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL)
Ana is a graduate of Bolingbrook High School and is currently pursuing an associate’s degree in psychology at Joliet Junior College. She serves as the Vice President of Latinos Unidos, one of the largest student organizations.
Anarely, Student, Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO), Guest of Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO)
Anarely was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and came to the U.S. when she was a young child. Her family stayed in Colorado to care for her grandmother, who suffered from breast cancer. Anarely has flourished in Colorado, graduating high school with a 4.3 GPA, where she participated in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). She went on to thrive at Colorado State University, triple majoring in political science, ethnic studies, and international relations.
Arisaid Gonzalez Porras, Student, Georgetown (Mesa, AZ), Guest of Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Arisaid came to the United States in 2000 from Mexico and currently resides in Arizona. Arisaid is a freshman at Georgetown University. As a first-generation student, she relied on the help of counselors and teachers help to apply to college. Growing up undocumented, she lived in fear of what would happen to her and her family. In her first semester in college, Arisaid has become more outspoken about her status as a DACA recipient and became an advocate for the rights of the undocumented youth. As a student with the privilege to go to a school right in the center of politics, she plans to continue her advocacy until Congress passes Dreamer legislation.
Cesar Montelongo, Student, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (Chicago, IL), Guest of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Cesar Montelongo was ten years old when his family came to the United States from Mexico. He grew up in New Mexico, where his academic prowess was quickly apparent. Cesar graduated high school with a Grade Point Average above 4.0, and he was ranked third in his class. Cesar went on to New Mexico State University, where he was a triple major in biology, microbiology, and Spanish; as well as two minors in chemistry and biochemistry. Cesar graduated with distinction in the honors track with a 3.9 GPA. Cesar then earned a Master’s degree in biology, with a minor in molecular biology, while also working as a teaching assistant. Today, Cesar is the first DACA student enrolled in the MD-PhD program at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. He is entering his third year of this highly competitive program, and upon completion he will receive a medical degree and a doctorate degree in science.
Christian Castaneda, Tax Representative, HW Staffing Solutions, (Portland, ME), Guest of Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Christian came to the United States in 2001 from El Salvador when he was four years old and now lives in Maine. He cherishes the many friendships he has built in Portland and remains active in school activities, such as playing for the varsity soccer team for Deering High School. Christian remained on high honors throughout his high school career and graduated at the top of his class.
Dalia Medina, Clinical Social Worker (Albuquerque, NM), Guest of Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
Dalia immigrated to the United States at the age of nine from Mexico. Dalia is a licensed mental health therapist providing much needed service to at risk youth and families in New Mexico. Dalia is working towards an Independent License to open her private practice to continue aiding families in her state. She recently obtained a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work and previously earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Psychology.
Denea Joseph, Student, UCLA (Los Angeles, CA), Guest of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Denea (Pronounced Denae) Joseph is an UndocuBlack DACA recipient who immigrated to the United States at the age of seven years old from Belize, Central America, without her mother, father, or siblings. It wasn’t until her junior year of high school that she realized the challenges she would face as a result of her immigrant identity. However, she was accepted into the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she commuted back and forth from South Los Angeles to Westwood because of financial limitations for undocumented youth in higher education. As an undergraduate, Denea advocated for the creation of an immigration attorney position at UCLA, increased and sustainable financial aid for undocumented youth across the University of California. Additionally, as a Young People For (YP4) fellow, Denea developed a social justice blueprint to address undocumented access and retention in institutions of higher learning. Denea has been vocal about her Undocublack experience, even being featured in Los Angeles Magazine’s historic immigration issue. Her story is currently on display as part of the Undocumented Stories Exhibit at the Downtown UCLA Labor Center. Denea has been serving as the communications coordinator for the UndocuBlack Network (UBN) where she advocates for the representation of UndocuBlack immigrants within the mainstream immigrant narrative. She aspires to be a Human Rights attorney, advocating for the rights of the most marginalized around the globe.
Esder Chong, Student, Rutgers University Newark, (Newark, NJ), Guest of Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
When Esder was 6 years old, she and her family immigrated to the States from South Korea. Unfortunately, after the 2008 economic recession, her mom lost her position working at a hospital and they lost their legal status. Esder first realized the implications of having an undocumented status when her mom got into a bike accident. It was an emergency situation and she needed treatment. However, because they were uninsured, she treated herself through home remedies and prayer. Fast forward one decade, Esder is now a sophomore at Rutgers University-Newark on a “full ride” thanks to private, external scholarships and donors including Dream.us and twenty others. She currently serves as the founder/president of RU Dreamers, a RU-Newark student organization that advocates for undocumented students’ rights to higher education. Esder is also a student-athlete competing for the RU-N cross country/track & field team and the News Editor for RU-N newspaper (The “Observer”).
Gabriela Hernandez, Student, Prince George’s Community College (Largo, MD), Guest of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Gabriela, 19, is a college student at Prince George’s Community College. She came here with her mother from El Salvador at the age of 4. Her goal is to transfer to a four-year university in the fall, study to be a social worker, and just have an opportunity to thrive. She has lived her entire life in this country, having attended schools in Prince George’s County since kindergarten. Because many family members already live here, she doesn’t have a lot of family left in her home country.
Itayu Torres, Student, Pasadena City College (Pasadena, CA), Guest of Congressman Jimmy Gomez (D-CA)
Itayu Torres came to the United States from Mexico as a six-month-old baby. She learned she was undocumented when she was 14 years old and in 2014 became eligible to apply for DACA. Earning DACA protections has allowed Itayu to access a government-issued ID card, work authorization, health care and protection from deportation. With DACA, Itayu had the opportunity to travel across the country. She is currently studying political science and business t at Pasadena City College and plans to continue her education at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. Itayu is part of the California Dream Network Steering Committee and one day hopes to to run for a seat in the United States Senate.
Ivonne Orozco-Acosta, Teacher, Public Academy for Performing Arts (Albuquerque, NM), Guest of Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Ivonne was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico until she was 12 years old when her family immigrated to the United States. She learned English through middle school and graduated high school in central New Mexico. It was during these challenging years of learning that Ivonne was encouraged by her teachers to grow. Ivonne knows the power that educators hold to create positive change in students’ perspectives of themselves. Ivonne attended the University of New Mexico where she earned her BA in Secondary Education with a concentration in Spanish. She has been teaching Spanish at Public Academy for Performing Arts, a charter school in Albuquerque, NM, for the past four years. Due to her passion for education, the work she does in her classroom and the representation of the diversity New Mexico schools foster, Ivonne has been selected as the 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year.
Jung Bin Cho, Immigrant Rights’ Fellow, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (Springfield, VA), Guest of Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA)
Jung Bin Cho and his family immigrated to the United States when he was 7 years old from South Korea. Thanks to the DACA program, Jung Bin was able to work and save money that allowed him to graduate from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Information Technology. Currently he is an Immigrant Rights Fellow at the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) organizing and advocating for economic, social and racial justice for all, with a focus on Asian American & Pacific Islander communities. His dream is to attend law school in order to help his community in Virginia.
Karen Bahena, Research Coordinator, University of Nutrition at San Diego State Univ. (San Diego, CA), Guest of Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA)
Karen lived in Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico for eight years until 2001 when her family migrated to San Diego. Thanks to DACA, Karen has been able to graduate college with a degree in Public Health and Nutrition at San Diego State University, find work as a research coordinator at the University of California, San Diego, and pursue her dreams in the field of medicine. She hopes to one day help underprivileged communities with healthcare needs.
Leslie Martinez, Student, University of California, (Irvine, CA), Guest of Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA)
Leslie Martinez is a Freshman in college who is passionate about her studies. She was brought to the U.S. at the age of 2. Growing up, she was alone most of the time due to her parents always working, but this allowed her to become independent at a very young age. She found out she was undocumented during middle school when she was trying to apply to a scholarship, but needed a social security number. Luckily, DACA came around during her high school years, opening several opportunities for her, such as an internship at UCI Medical Center where she was able to shadow medical professionals and it opened up her love for the medical field. DACA also made her college applications a smooth process and she is now a Freshman in college who is passionate about her studies. She attends the University of California, Irvine and is majoring in Chemistry. Leslie hopes to attend medical school after college in hopes of becoming a General Surgeon or a Pediatrician.
Leticia Herrera-Mendez, Student, California State University San Bernardino (San Bernardino, CA), Guest of Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-CA)
Leticia Herrera was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, and arrived in the United States at the age of 8. She is a DREAMer and student at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). In June 2019 she will obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and two certificates, one in Spanish Public Services and another in Social Services. She is committed to helping and spreading awareness about the Latino community. She is an immigrant activist and is the Vice President of the student organization Undocumented Advocates at CSUSB where she advocates for the rights of undocumented immigrants. Her work and dedication for her community has granted her the opportunity to serve as the California Delegate for Fuerza Migrante National Political Group and Student Assistant of the Undocumented Student Success Center at CSUSB.
Melody Klingenfuss, Statewide Youth Organizer, CHIRLA’s California Dream Network (Los Angeles, CA), Guest of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Melody was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. After growing up without parents, she was reunited with her mother in the heart of Los Angeles when she was 9-years-old. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications and Political Science at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). She graduated with a Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of Southern California (USC). She has conducted a research thesis focused on the representation of undocumented students in mass communication. Melody works as CHIRLA’s California Dream Network (CDN) Statewide Youth Organizer as a devoted advocate for human and immigration rights. She is a DACA recipient since 2015. Her life goal is to continue bending the arc of the moral universe towards justice.
Nelson Melgar, Co-founder, North Shore Hispanic Civic Association, (Long Island, NY), Guest of Congressman Thomas Suozzi (D-NY)
Nelson was born in Marcala, La Paz, Honduras in 1990. At the age of four, he started working with his parents on coffee farms to provide for the family. When he was 7 his mother left for the United States: he would not see her again till he was 13. Subsequently, his father lost their home and they moved to an aunt’s house. Having been raised far away from his mother and in extreme poverty, Nelson came to the U.S. undernourished and undereducated. His mother’s support galvanized him to succeed in ways he could have never been able to in Honduras. As a result, Nelson excelled in school. He completed the four year English as Second Language (ESL) program in the first year, went on to honors classes by tenth grade and advanced placement classes by eleventh grade. He enrolled at CUNY Hunter College, where he studied Political Science and International Relations. While he pursued his bachelor’s at Hunter, Nelson became active in the immigrant community. He joined the efforts of Long Island community organizers and began lobbying State Senators to pass the NY State Dream Act. In his current capacity, Nelson brings the needs of the Hispanic and immigrant communities to the attention of the Assemblyman. To strengthen and unite his community, he co-founded and now leads the North Shore Hispanic Civic Association as its founding President. With this work, he hopes to create a united Hispanic community in the north shore of Nassau County, and in turn give this community an avenue through which it can make itself heard.
Nicolle Uria, Student, High School (VA), Guest of Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA)
Nicolle moved to the United States from La Paz, Bolivia, at the age of 1 with both of her parents and her sisters. For her entire life, she has lived here, the United States is her home. Nicolle grew up living the American Dream just like any other American citizen. She celebrated the same traditions, ate the same food, enjoyed from the same activities as any of my other friends. Throughout her education, she has always been a good student and always very active with not just school activities but also with the community. She has been a Girl Scout since the age of 4, she’s played both soccer and volleyball for many years and now as a high school student. Nicolle spent many hours volunteering in the community and getting involved with organizations such as the Dream Project, LULAC, UNIDOS US, and many more. After finding out that she was undocumented, she thought all her hard work and effort was for nothing. But then, thanks to President Obama, she was able to apply for DACA.