Tensions are high ahead of President Donald Trump's annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 5th, and there's even more reason to expect it'll be a dramatic evening. While it may be Trump's night and his big moment on stage, Democrats are playing offense and will undoubtedly be stealing some of the limelight with their choice of guests, which are already proving to be a massive dig at the president. For one thing, two of Trump's former undocumented housekeepers, Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz, will be there.
On Feb. 1, Rep. Jimmy Gomez, Democrat of California, announced he'd be bringing Sandra Diaz, a Costa Rican immigrant who worked for Trump as an undocumented housekeeper from 2010 to 2013, but has since gained legal status. This announcement came as fellow Democrat Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said she'd be bringing along Victorina Morales, who'd also worked as an undocumented maid. Both women were reportedly employees at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to a New York Times article in December that revealed a history of Trump properties allegedly hiring immigrant women without papers to, literally, do his dirty work. Elite Daily reached out to the White House and the Trump Organization for comment on the guests as well as the New York Times report, but did not immediately hear back.
"It’s no small feat for a migrant from Costa Rica to stand up to a bully & hypocrite in the @WhiteHouse," wrote Gomez, making the announcement via Twitter.
Each member of Congress is entitled to invite a guest of honor for the big event. These guests are often strategically chosen to be the face of a particular policy initiative or agenda that a politician has championed. So generally speaking, it's not a surprise that some members will go directly against Trump and his agenda. But it was surprisingly bold for these two to bring Trump's ex-employees, who were given jobs by the very man who is insistent on building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, in part, to keep out undocumented immigrants.
"President Trump justified shutting the government down for five weeks by demonizing immigrants as the scourge of the country and the root of our nation’s crime and insecurity," Watson Coleman wrote in a statement. "Meanwhile, CEO Trump led a company that has relied extensively on the hard work of undocumented immigrants like my constituent Victorina to keep his resorts clean and his putting greens trimmed. Donald Trump wants to build silly walls to stop the same immigrants that he’s made a career and a fortune from exploiting."
The move was a bold one, but Watson Coleman and Gomez weren't alone in their decision to make such a statement with their plus-ones. Other Democratic representatives insisted on bringing the heat by inviting some other guests that would be sure to be taken as a subtle dig at Trump.
For a night where Trump's immigration politics is going to be front-of-mind, at least two other representatives also stuck to the theme. Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado will be bringing along a DACA recipient, referring to the act that Trump moved to rescind that had given protections to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, also known as "Dreamers."
Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American and Muslim representing Minnesota, made it clear that she was inviting her guest, a Liberian refugee, to make a point about the Trump administration's policies. As with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), the administration moved to do away with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), potentially resulting in the deportation of many refugees who'd been living in the U.S. for years. These policy changes were also joined by the decision to end Temporary Protected Status for certain refugees and the travel ban, which has blocked nationals from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
Other Democrats chose similarly poignant issues to highlight with their choice of guest. For example, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California is reportedly inviting Parkland shooting survivor and activist Cameron Kasky, who has helped lead the student-led movements to end gun violence in schools.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another noteworthy Democratic star, is bringing along Ana Maria Archila, the woman who famously confronted Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator about her sexual assault experience when he was debating whether to vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
And Reps. Jackie Speier, Chris Pappas, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all announced they'd be inviting transgender service members, just days after the Supreme Court announced it would allow the Trump administration's policy of banning such individuals from serving in the military to go into effect while the move is being fought in lower courts.
Aside from the guests of honor, the attendees will include members of Congress from both the House and Senate; the cabinet; leaders of various governmental agencies and departments; Supreme Court justices; joint chiefs of staff, and more. The president is also bringing a tally of more than a dozen people. So keep your eyes and ears out for references and snapshots of these high-profile attendees tonight. It's gonna be a roller coaster.