Politics

The President's Guest List for His First Address to Congress

February 28th 2017

By:
Kyle Jaeger

The list of guests President Donald Trump invited to attend his first address to Congress was released on Monday. Six guests — including three relatives of individuals who were killed by undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. — will be seated beside first lady Melania Trump during the speech.

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Traditionally, the guest list has served as a preview into the president's speech. Politico obtained a list of talking points the president is likely to focus on during his speech, and it includes a conversation about Americans' "desire for safe communities for themselves and their families" and a reflection on "the concrete steps he has already taken to make the American Dream possible for all of our people." The list does not specifically mention immigration policy, though.

Here are the guest who will be attending the president's first address to Congress.

  1. Jessica Davis and Susan Oliver: Both guests are widows of California police officers who were killed by an undocumented immigrant in 2014, according to The Sacramento Bee.
  2. Jamie Shaw, Sr.: In 2008, Shaw’s son — a high school football player in Los Angeles — was fatally shot by a gang member who was in the country illegally, The Los Angeles Times reported.
  3. Megan Crowley: After being diagnosed with Pompe Disease as an infant, Crowley’s father set out to develop a treatment by creating the drug company Novazyme Pharmaceuticals. The 20-year-old is now a college student at Notre Dame University.
  4. Maureen McCarthy Scalia: Scalia is the widow of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016, leaving a vacant seat on the bench. Trump’s nominee for the seat, federal judge Neil Gorsuch, is awaiting Senate confirmation.
  5. Danisha Merriweather: The recipient of a Florida scholarship program that awarded her family tax credits to send her to private school, Merriweather is an advocate for school choice — a position shared by the president and education secretary Betsy DeVos.

Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, have invited guests whose attendance is meant to send a counter-message.

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The Democratic guest list includes Hameed Darweesh, an Iraqi immigrant who helped the U.S. military in Iraq and was temporarily detained at a New York City airport in January following the implementation of Trump's travel ban, which barred immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days before courts suspended the order.

Nine other Democratic lawmakers plan to bring individuals affected by the president's executive order on immigration, CNN reported.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) announced that his guest would be Fidaa Elaydi, an immigration attorney based in Chicago who has worked with Muslim immigrants impacted by Trump's travel ban. She is also the daughter of Palestinian refugees who fled Gaza.

"If he looks up during the speech, I want Trump to see the face of a woman, the face of a Muslim, and the face of someone whose family has enriched and contributed to this country despite starting out as refugees," Gutiérrez said in a press release last week. "Trump needs to know that real people are hurt by his policies and Ms. Elaydi can make that point in so many ways."