FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2019
Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279
Marco Villada, Dreamer Once Stranded in Mexico, to Attend State of the Union Address
WASHINGTON — Marco Villada, a former DACA recipient whose life was turned upside down by an injustice that separated him from his husband and left him stranded in Mexico for half a year, will attend the State of the Union Address on Tuesday as a guest of Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46).
“My husband, Israel, and I are grateful for the opportunity to show decision-makers and the country that, despite attempts by some people in power to dehumanize, vilify and harm our immigrant communities, we are undeniably a part of the fabric of this country,” Villada said.
Villada, who grew up and lives in California, traveled to Mexico for a consular interview as part of the process of applying for lawful permanent residence after marrying Israel Serrato, a U.S. citizen. Once he arrived there, his application was wrongfully denied, and he was barred from reentering the U.S.
Villada and Serrato — represented by the National Immigration Law Center, Mayer Brown LLP, and the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin — sued the Trump administration. After the legal action and broad public support, including from groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, the government reversed its decision. Marco was allowed to return home, but not before he and his husband lost their home and their savings, and missed out on precious time together.
“Marco and Israel are pillars of our community here in Los Angeles, and their struggle demonstrated what we all know to be true: that our current immigration policies hurt all of us,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “Thousands were inspired by their fight to be reunited, and thousands more cheered when Marco was allowed to come back home. We were so proud to stand with them in their fight to be reunited as a family, and we know they will carry their message of dignity all the way to Washington.”
Villada will be among more than a dozen guests at the State of the Union impacted by the Trump administration’s xenophobic and anti-immigrant policies. They include Shaima Swileh, a Yemeni mother who nearly missed her sick child’s last days due Trump’s Muslim ban. Swileh was granted an elusive waiver, but only after enormous public pressure. Her husband Ali Hassan, a U.S. citizen, will also attend the State of the Union.
Dreamers, people with TPS, refugees, and mothers impacted by President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy will also be present to give voice to the millions who have been impacted by Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
“We hope our experience offers hope to all those who are feeling the toll of our unjust immigration policies and the current political climate,” Serrato said. “Our communities are strong and resilient. And, as our story shows, even when there’s a lot of hurt, there can be a happy ending.”