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Immigration activist joins Sen. Cantwell for State of the Union

Sen. Maria Cantwell has invited Maru Mora-Villalpando to be her guest at the State of the Union Address on Tuesday. Villalpando has made her mark by staging protests outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, where undocumented immigrants await their deportation hearings. (Photo: KOMO News file)

TACOMA, Wash. - Members of Congress get to bring one guest each to President Trump's first State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night, and many are choosing people who can put a face to the issues they are pushing.

Sen. Maria Cantwell has invited Maru Mora-Villalpando, who has made her mark by staging protests outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, where undocumented immigrants await their deportation hearings.

Villalpando is no fan of the president, but she is eager to face him when he delivers his speech.

“It's obvious that ICE is targeting my family because of my political views, because of my activism,” Villalpando said. “Because I don't agree with the round-up of my community and the deportation of family members."

For years, Villalpando has organized immigrants at the detention facility, but last month she received a court order to appear for deportation hearings herself.

While she is undocumented, Villalpando believes she received this notice to appear because of her activism.

She said her presence at the president's speech will be its own show of defiance.

“Since they sent me a letter to my house, I figure why don't I go their house, to Trump’s house, and face him and show that we're not afraid, that we know we're doing the right thing by fighting for human rights,” she said.

Sen. Patty Murray went a different direction with her guest and has invited Leah Griffin, a sexual assault survivor.


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