Oregon Democrats will send 6 'Dreamers' to Trump's first State of the Union address
Earl Blumenauer has opted to skip President Trump's first State of the Union address, but that doesn't mean the congressman's seat will be empty Tuesday evening.
The Oregon Democrat's spot will be taken by Aldo Solano, a "Dreamer" who stands to lose his legal status if Congress doesn't negotiate an extension or permanent fix to the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which as of now expires March 8.
Blumenauer and Solano addressed the media together Friday morning as the 24-year-old immigrant from Mexico prepared for his trip to Washington, D.C.
The congressman said he wasn't attending the State of the Union to spend time visiting with constituents here in Oregon instead. Solano told reporters he was making the trip to D.C. because he and other Dreamers "can't wait anymore" for further discussions of their fate to play out on Capitol Hill.
"I am an American. I am an Oregonian and I'm fighting for my right to be here," he said.
Solano works for the Oregon Latino Health Coalition. He's also a Portland Community College student.
His family immigrated to the United States when Solano was 6. He grew up in Woodburn, where he lived with his parents and two siblings, both of whom are also DACA recipients.
Two years ago, Solano's mother moved back to Mexico to take care of his ailing grandmother. In 2017, his father followed. But, much like the rest of the 800,000 Dreamers and other immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Solano says moving to his country of origin isn't practical.
Solano has been in the country for 18 years. Oregon is the only home he's ever known.
"I have nowhere else to go," he said.
Blumenauer, who represents Oregon's 3rd Congressional District, was the first of the state's Congressional delegation to announce he would send a Dreamer to Trump's speech. He is, however, the only elected official who will not attend the event.
His guest is Leonardo Reyes, who works as a bilingual eligibility specialist for the state.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader (all D-Ore.) will also be accompanied by Dreamers, who are called such because they were brought to the U.S. as children as undocumented immigrants.
The nickname comes from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which provided many of the same protections as the Obama administration's DACA program.
The former president's executive order did not grant those recipients legal status. Instead, it provided temporary protection from deportation and permission to legally work in the United States.
DACA has been the focal point of heated debates over immigration reform on Capitol Hill ever since the Trump administration signaled its desire to end the program in September, which has created uncertainty for approximately 800,000 young immigrants.
"We trusted the government to do right by us and they took that away from us," Solano said.
Blumenauer echoed Solano's sentiments, saying DACA enrollees made a "leap of faith" in trusting the federal government.
"I hope we don't let him down," the congressman said.
The other Dreamers attending the State of the Union are:
Daysi Bedolla, Wyden's guest.
Juan Carlos Navarro, Schrader's guest.
Jesus Narvaez, DeFazio's guest.
Miriam Vargas Corona, Bonamici's guest.
Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address on Tuesday at 6 p.m.