Democrats have invited immigrants and foreigners to President Donald Trump's first address to Congress in an effort to put a face on those who could be hurt by the Republican's policies.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers typically get one guest ticket apiece for presidential addresses, as they will for Tuesday's prime-time speech, and the invites often go to family, friends or someone from back home. To send a message to Trump, Democrats have invited the Iraqi-American doctor who discovered elevated levels of lead in the blood of many children living in Flint, Michigan; a Pakistani-born doctor who delivers critical care to patients in Rhode Island and an American-born daughter of Palestinian refugees who aids people like her family in their quest to come to the United States.
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., invited a constituent he describes as a hero for helping to expose the Flint water crisis. He said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha came to the United States with her Iraqi parents, who were fleeing the regime of Saddam Hussein. She has recently questioned whether her family would have been allowed into the country under the policies of the Trump administration.
"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," said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., whose guest Tuesday will be Fidaa Rashid, a Chicago immigration attorney.
Soon after taking office, Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning all entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations and pausing the entire U.S. refugee program. The order sparked worldwide confusion about who was covered by the edict, with thousands gathering at airports and in other settings to protest. An appeals court blocked the order.
Trump has said he will issue another order along similar lines. Trump has also expanded the range of immigrants living in the country illegally who have become a priority for removal. The president has argued that the steps are necessary to protect the nation.
One of the people caught up in Trump's executive order was Sara Yarjani, a 35-year-old Iranian graduate student studying in California. She was held at Los Angeles International Airport for nearly 23 hours before being sent back to Vienna, Austria, where she had been visiting family. She was able to resume her studies at the California Institute for Human Sciences after a judge halted implementation of Trump's order. She'll attend Trump's speech as a guest of Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif.
"Mr. Trump needs to see the people he has hurt," Chu said.