A 22-year-old Miami-Dade College student who has lived most of her life in the country illegally is set to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union Tuesday.
Mayra Rubio Limon was invited by South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia to hear the address. The Mexican native is one of a handful of so-called Dreamers from around the country likely to be in the audience when the president speaks. Obama is expected to name immigration reform as a top priority during the remainder of his term.
"I'm kind of nervous right now but very excited," Rubio said.
The trip will be her second to Washington, D.C. She was among nearly a dozen Dreamers who were arrested late last year for holding a peaceful sit-in at the congressional offices of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. No charges were filed.
Garcia sponsored a comprehensive immigration reform bill late last year similar to the one passed earlier in 2013 by the Democrat-led Senate, but the Republican leadership has refused to take it up. House and other GOP leaders are working on their own set of immigration principles they expect to present to the Republican caucus next week. Those proposals are unlikely to include a path to citizenship though they may offer some relief tor the 11 million people living in the country illegally. But they face stiff opposition from within the party.
Rubio Limon has spent years working in the fields picking zucchini and other produce alongside her older brother and parents, who now run a produce stand in the southern Miami suburb of Homestead. Her 11-year-old sister is a U.S. Citizen.
Rubio Limon, who is studying for a degree in business, hopes Congress will create a path to citizenship for all those in the country illegally, but she said her parents' priorities are to be able to work without fear of deportation and to travel home to Mexico to visit their aging parents.
"Ever since I can remember, it's something that really affects my mom and dad. They haven't seen their parents in so long," she said. "My mom is 41, and my dad is 46. At this age they just want to know they can travel and work."
Meanwhile, local nonprofits are organizing a watch party for the president's address Tuesday dubbed "A People's State of the Union."
The group One Miami is organizing the event at La Pupusa Factor in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. The organization works on issues of minimum wage, Medicaid expansion, access to health care and immigration reform.
The groups are hoping President Obama will address immigration reform and minimum in his speech, as well as what the president will propose to address the nation's growing income gap.