Who Is Denea Joseph? Kamala Harris' SOTU Guest Sends A Strong Message
The tone for this year's State of the Union under Donald Trump's administration seems to be that of political protest. That is, if you look at some of the guests selected by Democrats attending the annual event on Tuesday. One such example is that of California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris' guest, Denea Joseph, a DACA recipient.
The Californian senator announced her choice on Friday and said that Joseph would be joining her at the State of the Union as a guest. For many, Joseph is a new name. Harris' pick is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient who came from Belize as a child, and was raised on the West Coast in Los Angeles. In addition to having studied at the UCLA, she is the communications coordinator of the UndoBlack network which is an organization for undocumented black individuals in the United States. While speaking of Joseph, Harris said:
Dreamers like Denea represent the best of who we are as a nation. Her commitment to the representation and empowerment of black immigrant communities is inspiring.
Harris also added, "We must continue to fight to give her and the hundreds of thousands of other young people like her who are living in fear, the security they need to live up to their full potential."
The Californian senator's official statement on bringing Joseph to the State of the Union also included her own words. Joseph wrote of her childhood and spoke optimistically about improving immigration in the United States. In September 2017, Trump revoked the DACA program which protects an estimated 800,000 undocumented youths in the country. Joseph said that she was thankful to the political efforts of people like Harris who have been speaking against the present administration's immigration stance.
"As a young girl born in Belize, a country of no more than 370,000 people, I could’ve never fathomed that I’d be invited as a guest to the State of the Union Address," Joseph said. "While I wish it was under better circumstances, I’m grateful to my fellow activists, organizers, and congressional allies like Senator Kamala Harris who continue to champion immigrant rights as human rights."
The DACA activist also said, "I truly believe that we will win, we will win the fight to ensure that immigrants like myself are equipped with the rights to live and contribute fully. The time is now to pass a Clean Dream Act that doesn’t use undocumented youth to criminalize the original 'Dreamers' — our parents and grandparents."
In December 2017, Harris wrote an op-ed in Elle magazine and demanded that the present immigration reconsider its position against DACA. "The decision to rescind DACA is part of a much broader attempt to target immigrants. This Administration has ignited anti-immigrant sentiment, characterizing immigrants as rapists, murderers, and people who are going to steal your jobs. That could not be further from the truth," Harris wrote.
On Twitter, Joseph has been loud and clear about fair immigration in the United States. On Jan. 21, Joseph tweeted, "With #DACA I was able to intern in a Congressional office, study abroad in Spain and Morocco and graduate from one of the top institutions in the nation, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with my BA. The time is now for a permanent solution for undocumented youth."
Joseph's presence at the State of the Union event will most likely leave an unapologetic message in favor of undocumented youths. Harris won't be alone; several Democratic representatives and senators have planned to do the same, including Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Illinois Rep. Bill Foster, and a few others..