The teenage State of the Union guests with a powerful message for Donald Trump
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Tonight, when President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE climbs the rostrum and stares out across the packed House chamber to offer his first State of the Union address, two young faces will be staring back. Sitting in the gallery above Members of Congress, generals and judges will be a pair of teenagers who understand the devastating impact of Trump’s policies more profoundly than any of the eminent figures gathered in the Capitol.  

Angel and Jacqueline, American citizens whose mother, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, was deported to Mexico earlier this month, are among the first victims of Donald Trump’s impending crackdown on America’s immigrant communities.  They will be in the audience when Trump attempts to explain his immigration policies to the American people and – unless Congress acts – their heartbreak could soon be shared by hundreds of thousands of other Americans, from the elderly and infirm to vulnerable children.   


Through executive orders which are as cruel as they are ill-conceived, Donald Trump has laid the foundations for an unprecedented program of mass deportations.  He has discarded the sensible enforcement priorities instituted by his predecessor, policies that were aimed at ensuring that dangerous criminals were the primary targets of our immigration authorities.  Instead, the vast majority of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, including parents and breadwinners like Guadalupe, are now vulnerable to deportation. Tragically, untold numbers immigrants with deep ties to our communities and our country could soon suffer her fate.   

Going after hard-working immigrants like Guadalupe isn’t just inhumane, it’s also a waste of the federal government’s scarce time and money.  Law enforcement agencies don’t have unlimited resources and, just like local police departments, federal immigration authorities must make hard choices about which cases to prioritize.  That’s why electing to detain undocumented parents means fewer resources will be available to pursue the exceedingly small number of immigrants who actually do pose a threat to our communities.      

This logic is clearly lost on the Trump administration. Instead of focusing on dangerous criminals, Trump has relentlessly vilified and scapegoated people who came to this country seeking a better life.  His policies represent a radical departure from those favored by Republican administrations since at least President Reagan. Crucially, they are also completely at odds with the goals of the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate with wide bipartisan support less than four years ago.

We desperately need more Republicans willing to stand up for American kids like Angel and Jacqueline.  If other immigrant families are to be spared, the 11 remaining Republican senators who voted for that bill must take a strong and unequivocal position against Trump’s disastrous approach to immigration enforcement. 

Rep. Gallego represents Arizona's 7th District.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.