Tuesday night, high school senior Juan Andres Macedo de Alba was in the audience of President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, as a guest of Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-WA1.
That’s a far cry from where he was a year ago, when the honor student faced deportation after he and a friend were stopped by a border patrol agent in Blaine.
Macedo de Alba has been in the United States since he was 9, when his family overstayed a visa. Macedo de Alba is an athlete, band member and on the honor roll and in the Running Start program at Mount Vernon High School.
Macedo de Alba’s arrival in the U.S. came a few weeks after the deadline set by Obama’s 2012 executive action on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, giving deportation relief for young immigrants.
In January 2014, Macedo de Alba and his friend were stopped within a mile of the Canadian border, where agents have greater authority to question people about citizenship, according to reports.
Macedo de Alba told the Skagit Valley Herald last year that he hadn’t been concerned about being stopped until the border agent told him he was in the country illegally.
After being stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents in January 2014, Macedo de Alba spent a few weeks in detention, until a federal judge granted an indefinite stay, according to The Seattle Times.
However, DelBene said that Macedo de Alba qualifies for deportation relief under Obama’s most recent actions on immigration.
“I am so pleased that Juan was able to attend tonight, as my guest, to see and hear the President discussing the importance of fixing our immigration system so students like Juan may continue their education and build a brighter future for themselves and their communities.
“The DACA program has and will help DREAMers like Juan, but this is not a permanent fix. It is just a temporary stopgap measure that keeps people from being deported for a few years. Only Congress can fully fix our country’s broken immigration system by enacting comprehensive immigration reform. I’m incredibly disappointed that House leaders forced votes last week on partisan amendments that would roll back DACA and result in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of DREAMers like Juan.
“Those were harmful, reckless votes taking us in the wrong direction. We should be supporting, not deporting students like Juan. The time is now to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and I will continue to do everything I can to get this done.”