Democrats have voiced opposition to the recently released White House plan for a path to citizenship for 1.8 million dreamers in exchange for $25 billion for Trump's border wall and sharp cuts to family immigration visas.
Liberal lawmakers have accused the president of leveraging the dreamers as “ransom” to severely constrict legal immigration, calling it a wish list for “anti-immigration hard-liners” and “white supremacists.”
But these politicians hope to draw attention to the issue Tuesday afternoon by holding a news conference with some of the dreamers who traveled from across the country to attend the speech.
“We expect this to be the largest number of dreamers to ever attend a State of the Union,” said Carlos Paz Jr., communications director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is boycotting the speech, as are several other members of Congress, but is sending a dreamer in his place.
NBC News reported that only one Republican — Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) — will bring a dreamer to the event.
Other Democratic lawmakers are expected to bring guests who have had family members deported.
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) is inviting Cindy Garcia, a United Auto Workers employee and the wife of Jorge Garcia, a 39-year-old father who was recently deported after living in the United States for three decades.
“The Garcia family’s story is heartbreaking and infuriating. It is both a symptom of a long-broken immigration system and a new, rash immigration policy that does not recognize the difference between a hard-working family man and a criminal. This must change,” Dingell said in a statement.
“Jorge’s wife Cindy has shown incredible resilience and courage in the face of these impossible circumstances. I am honored that she will join me at the State of the Union to be a voice for the hundreds of thousands of aspiring Americans who are part of the fabric of our communities, and who deserve a pathway to legal status in the country they call home.”
Following the rise of the #MeToo movement, other lawmakers, at least 10, plan to bring survivors of sexual assault or activists to the speech. After Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) co-sponsored a bill that would reform how Congress handles sexual assault complaints against lawmakers and congressional staff members, much attention has been paid to how little Republican lawmakers are discussing the nearly 20 sexual misconduct allegations facing Trump.
And some female lawmakers will be wearing black in solidarity with the Time's Up movement, which sought to highlight the issue of sexual assault at the Grammys and Golden Globes.