LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Attorney Juan Jose Redin of North Hollywood and U.S. Army Sgt. Ashleigh Berg, a Malibu resident, were among the guests in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address by President Barack Obama.
Dating back to the Reagan administration, invitations to sit in the first lady’s box have gone to everyday individuals who illustrate points in the speech.
Redin was used to illustrate Obama’s call “to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses and defend this country.”
“Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship,” Obama said. “I will sign it right away.”
To Ira Mehlman, the national media director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, what Obama “was talking about was the DREAM Act, without actually mentioning the DREAM Act.”
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, first introduced in 2001, would give conditional permanent residence to illegal immigrants of good moral character who arrived in the U.S. as minors, lived in the nation for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment, graduated from high school and completed two years at a four-year college or in the military.
“Congress has been considering the DREAM Act since 2000 and they have not passed it because it does not have the support of the American people,” said Mehlman, whose group seeks to improve border security, stop illegal immigration and promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest.
“There is no reason we ought to be rewarding people who came here illegally or were brought here illegally,” Mehlman said.
“It is the parents who put these kids in these positions. They want to shift the responsibility for the predicament these people are in to the American public, when in fact it was the parents who knowingly violated the law.”
Redin was born in Ixtapa de la Sal, Mexico, before coming to the United States at the age of 10 with his mother and younger sister. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from UCLA, benefiting from AB 540, which was signed into law by then-Gov. Gray Davis in 2001 and allowed illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates.
Redin later became a U.S. citizen.
Supporters of the DREAM Act say its benefits young people who did not have a say in the decision to illegally come to the U.S.
Sgt. Ashleigh Berg represented the Obama administration’s efforts on behalf of military members and their families. She joined the Army in 2004, has served two tours of duty in Iraq and has been stationed in South Korea and Germany. She is assigned to the 94th Army Missile Defense Command in Fort Shafter, Hawaii. Her husband is also an Army sergeant, and is serving his third tour in Afghanistan.
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