Although President Donald Trump won’t be giving a formal State of the Union address Tuesday night (he’s only been in office a month), Democrats are still planning on making his address to a joint session of Congress as uncomfortable as possible.
Each legislator is allowed a handful of tickets for the public gallery, so that interested constituents and guests can be present for what is typically the President’s most important speech of the year. Most often, those tickets go to hometown heroes from the legislator’s respective districts, people who have made the news over the past year, or those who have benefitted from the administration’s policy agenda.
But the power can also be used for evil: Legislators have been known to pass off their tickets to protesters—including perennial anti-war activists Code Pink—or to special interest groups opposed to key items in the speech.
This year, Democrats will be using their tickets as part of an organized effort to invite the families of illegal immigrants, DREAMers protected by former President Obama’s executive orders on immigration, and Muslim-Americans they claim will be harmed by Trump’s temporary travel ban. (A court has stayed Trump’s travel ban.)
Rep. Nydia Velázquez from New York is inviting an Iraqi man who served American troops as a translator, and who was detained for several hours when the travel ban went into effect. Rep. Jim Langevin will invite a Muslim-American born in Pakistan whom he says represents the idea that “patriotism” is not the sole purview of Trump voters.
Since it would be hard to actually find an illegal immigrant willing to walk into the United States Capitol, Dems will instead bring several people helped by the DREAM act (which Trump says he won’t undo), and the family of a woman slated for deportation back to her home country of Mexico during a routine check-in with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials.
Sources in one Democratic Congressional office tell Heat Street an invitation was even extended to Meryl Streep, but it’s not clear how serious the invitation was (or whether it was even received).
In case you aren’t sure who is who, Langevin also intends to hold a press conference before the joint session, just to introduce media and viewers to the people on his subversive guest list. He expects 10 to 15 of his colleagues to participate.