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U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici invited director of Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation to highlight health care.

COURTESY VIRGINIA GARCIA MEMORIAL FOUNDATION - Serena Cruz, executive director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, will be the guest of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., at the 2020 State of the Union address Tuesday, Feb. 4, in Washington, D.C.Serena Cruz, executive director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, will be the guest of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Cruz will be in the House gallery at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., for the joint session of Congress and the address by President Donald Trump.

Bonamici, a Democrat from Beaverton, represents the 1st District of northwest Oregon. She said Cruz was invited because Democrats want to focus on health care. The foundation raises money and deals with community relations for the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Clinic, which operates programs in Washington and Yamhill counties serving 50,000 patients.

"I hope that her being there will help lift up the work you are doing here at Virginia Garcia because it is so important," Bonamici said Friday at a stop at the Beaverton Wellness Center. "I also want to convey the message that health care, and access to it, is a right."

Cruz issued a statement Monday:

"I'm thrilled to join Congresswoman Bonamici in taking this opportunity to highlight the good work being done at federally qualified health centers like Virginia Garcia. With respect to health care and the treatment of immigrants we are falling behind because of the culture of rejection and hate this administration is directing at them.

"When those who are most vulnerable have access to high quality health care, we all benefit. Healthier communities are stronger ones. Children stay in school. Parents have the care they need to be productive at work. The battle to remove barriers to health care is something that Congresswoman Bonamici has led throughout her time representing Oregon's most diverse congressional district. We're glad we can count on her to advocate for stable and adequate funding for federally qualified health centers, ensuring that all of her constituents get the care they need to thrive.

"I am the daughter of a Mexican immigrant who suffered through countless hardships so that I could achieve my dreams here in the United States. I am grateful for my mother's sacrifices and saddened to see our country move backwards in its understanding of the value of immigrants. To see that value being turned into hatred and rejection via punitive administrative rules like public charge, border walls being built, and families being separated at the border, makes me angry and at the same time, deeply grateful we've got leaders like Congresswoman Bonamici."

Cruz wasn't present, but Miriam Vargas Corona was. She was Bonamici's State of the Union guest in 2018, when Bonamici decided to recognize one of the first Oregonians to apply for protection from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that then-President Barack Obama created in 2012. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by June whether the program stands against a challenge by Trump, who seeks to end it.

Vargas Corona is now executive director of Unidos Bridging Community, a nonprofit based in McMinnville supporting Latino immigrant families.

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NOTE: Adds statement from Cruz via Bonamici press release.

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