WASHINGTON -- When President Barack Obama stands before Congress on Tuesday for his State of the Union address, at least five undocumented immigrants will be in the audience: Julieta Garibay, Alan Aleman, Gabino Sanchez, Ambar Pinto and Jose Godinez-Samperio.
"It feels really surreal, like I can't believe it's going to happen," said Garibay, a founder of the United We Dream advocacy group, who was invited by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas). "It's an exciting moment overall, it's just very historic, because there's going to be undocumented immigrants at the State of the Union, because we're in such a critical moment in our lives. We really feel like this is our year."
Aleman, whom the president highlighted in a speech on Jan. 29, will attend as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday. Sanchez will be a guest of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who has traveled to South and North Carolina to attend Sanchez's deportation hearings. Pinto, 19, was invited to attend by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), NBC Latino reported Tuesday. And Godinez-Samperio, a 26-year-old lawyer, will be a guest of Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).
All five immigrants are "Dreamers" -- named for the proposed Dream Act that would help them become citizens -- who came to the United States as children.
Garibay was born in Mexico City and moved to Texas at the age of 12. At age 32 now, she is slightly too old to apply to stay in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Obama announced last year, but she is a longtime advocate for the Dream Act.
Sanchez has lived in the U.S. since he was 15 years old and is married with two U.S.-citizen children, but faced deportation proceedings after multiple misdemeanors for driving without a license. He was granted a yearlong continuance last May and is able to work legally and apply for a driver's license. Now in his late 20s, Sanchez is also applying for deferred action.
"I am taking Gabino Sanchez to the President's speech because he represents young people, the fathers and mothers and immediate families of U.S. citizens we deport every day," Gutierrez said in a statement. "Congress needs to know the cost of inaction."
Aleman, 20, filed for deferred action on day one and was among the first Dreamers to be granted the opportunity to work and stay in the United States for two years. After the president spent a portion of his speech last month telling Aleman's story, the Dreamer said he appreciated those words and now wanted action.
"We need to know what is going to happen," Aleman said at the time. "Is he going to stop deportations during this debate? Is he going to do something? That's what we need to know."
Garibay made a similar point about the State of the Union speech.
"We're hoping that he will reiterate his commitment," she said. "But what we're looking for more is his actions after."
This story has been updated with a statement from Rep. Luis Gutierrez and with information about additional Dreamer guests Ambar Pinto and Jose Godinez-Samperio.