Democrats have invited immigrants and foreigners to attend President Donald Trump’s first address to the US Congress, in an effort to put a face on those they say could be hurt by the Republican’s policies.
To send a message to Trump, lawmakers are inviting people like an Iraqi-born doctor who discovered elevated levels of lead in the blood of many children living in Flint, Michigan.
They also invited a Pakistani-born doctor who delivers critical care to patients in Rhode Island and an American-born daughter of Palestinian refugees who helps people like her family resettle in the US.
“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 Luis V Gutierrez, whose guest on Tuesday will be Fidaa Rashid, a Chicago immigration attorney.
Lawmakers typically get one guest ticket apiece for presidential addresses, as they will for Tuesday’s prime-time speech.
A group of Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to colleagues earlier this month urging them to invite guests who have, despite discrimination, made positive impacts on their communities.
The focus on welcoming immigrants will also extend to the response that Democratic leaders plan for Trump’s speech. Astrid Silva, who was brought into the US as a young child, will provide the rebuttal in Spanish, the AP news agency reported.
Soon after taking office, Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning all entry to the US from seven Muslim-majority nations and pausing the entire US refugee programme.
As a result, thousands protested what was referred to as the Muslim Ban and confusion reigned at US airports. An appeals court blocked the order.
Under the Trump administration there has also been an increase in deportations of undocumented immigrants living in the country. The president has argued that these steps are necessary to protect the nation.