When President Donald Trump addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time Tuesday night, he sent messages not just by what he said but through whom he brrought with him.
At the same time, members of Congress sent messages of their own through their guest lists.
Hardly a surprise, given the hot debate of recent weeks and months, the invitations shone the spotlight on Obamacare, immigration, Trump’s travel ban and his nomination to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
For its part, the White House announced the president and first lady would bring six guests. Some examples:
He’s the father of slain Los Angeles High School football standout Jamiel Shaw II, who was shot to death in 2008 near his home. Convicted in the murder was Pedro Espinoza, who was living in the U.S. illegally at the time. Espinoza had been released from jail two days before the shooting.
Jamiel Shaw delivered speeches at several Trump campaign events and the Republican National Convention.
Jessica Davis and Susan Oliver
They are the widows of Placer County sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis and Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver. In 2014, the two California law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty — by a man living in the country illegally.
Maureen McCarthy Scalia
She’s the widow of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch of Colorado to succeed Scalia.
Not to be outdone, members of Congress are elbowing for a slice of the spotlight. Here are some of invitees and the issues the politicians want to illustrate with their stories.
A Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, he is a sophomore at Santa Ana College, according to Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, who invited him. He and his family came to California from Mexico, where they were surrounded by poverty, when he was seven years old.
“He found his path to the American Dream through hard work and education,” Correa said in a floor speech. “He’s the first person in his family to attend college. And his goal is to earn a ph.D in engineering.”
Invited by Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-San Bernardino, she is coordinator of Cal State San Bernardino’s DREAMers Resource and Success Center. She, too, is a DACA recipient.
“Maria, and the Dreamers like her in our community, are a shining light for our region and nation,” Aguilar said.
Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, planned to bring along a DACA recipient who is a student at UC Irvine. Lowenthal spokesman Keith Higginbotham declined to name the student, saying, “his guest is understandably concerned — I would go so far as to say frightened — about her safety and security.”
She is a 35-year old Iranian graduate student studying at the California Institute for Human Science in Encinitas. She was invited by Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park.
Yarjani is a permanent resident of Austria who resides in the U.S. on a student visa, according to Chu.
On Jan. 27, mere hours after Trump signed an order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, she was held at Los Angeles International Airport 23 hours. Then she was sent back to Vienna, where she had just visited family. She returned to the U.S. eight days later.
Invited by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, Kalijian is a Syrian-Armenian displaced by the conflict in Aleppo. Schiff’s office said Kalijian left Syria in 2012, going first to Armenia before moving his family to the U.S. He, his wife and two children are U.S. citizens.
A Muslim activist, she was invited by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside.
Rivzi is general secretary of the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco. She spoke at the Riverside Women’s March on Jan. 21.
She is a resident of North Hollywood whom Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Van Nuys, invited.
According to Cárdenas, Brooks had an emergency C-section two years ago and was told her life would be in danger if she were to get pregnant again. Because of the Affordable Care Act, she was able to obtain an IUD. And the health care safety net set up by the law enabled her children to receive prenatal and pediatric care.
City News Service contributed to this report
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