From Immigrants to Trans Military Members, Dems Are Sending Trump a Message With SOTU Guests

State of the Union guests
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Twitter/@RepJimmyGomez, Twitter/@SenGillibrand

Every member of Congress gets to bring guests to watch the president’s State of the Union and this year, Democratic lawmakers are making a bold statement and filling the room with people who the Trump administration is working against.

Common themes emerge when looking at the guest list. Among them are climate change activists and scientists, transgender military members, immigrants, victims of gun violence, and federal workers affected by the government shutdown.

Climate Change

Democrats are pushing for a Green New Deal and begging the administration to take climate change seriously. President Donald Trump, well, isn’t. He’s denied or brushed aside reports put out by his own administration that predict a bleak future for the environment, public health, and the economy all due to climate change.

Rep. Pramila Jaypal (D-Wash.) is betting that the president won’t even mention the phenomena at the State of the Union. She’s bringing both the University of Washington College of the Environment and a climate scientist.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is bringing the executive director of the Sunrise Movement, an organization that mobilizes young activists to push for legal action on climate change.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) is bringing former Department of the Interior official Joel Clement. According to the Press Herald, Clement said he was forced to resign because he spoke out about the dangers of climate change, specifically its impact of Native American communities.

Transgender military members

One of the largest and most timely themes of SOTU guests this year is transgender military members. Just two weeks ago, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to move forward with plans to ban transgender people from serving.

Democrats are making sure Trump will literally have to face the service members and veterans this ban affects.

2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is bringing Lt. Commander Blake Dremann, the first ever openly transgender service member to be promoted in the military.

Congressman Chris Pappas of New Jersey made history this November when he became the first openly gay person elected to Congress form the state of New Jersey. The Democrat is extending his invitation to others in the LGBT community by inviting Navy veteran Tavion Dignard.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) proudly announced that she would be bringing a transgender staff sergeant in the Air Force, the same person she fought for when the Department of Defense originally announced the ban last year.

Gun Violence Victims and Activists

The State of the Union on Tuesday is just over a week before the one year anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool in Parkland, Florida, the shooting that changed the gun control conversation and sparked a national movement.

Many of those affected by that shooting and others will be in attendance Tuesday evening.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) is inviting Cameron Kasky, one of the original Parkland student founders of the anti-gun violence group March For Our Lives.

Sen Rick Scot (D-Fla.) is bringing Andrew Pollack who lost his young daughter, Meadow, in the Parkland shooting last year.

Multiple other gun violence victims and activists will be in attendance, specifically those involved with March For Our Lives around the country.


One of Trump’s biggest talking points in Tuesday’s address is sure to be immigration. Trump is pushing for a border wall and overall tougher action on undocumented immigrants.

Democrats are hoping to uplift immigrants and their stories by bringing them along to the State of the Union.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) is making a bold move by not only bringing along an immigrant but the woman who was the former housekeeper for the president. Sandra Diaz was one of the multiple undocumented workers at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Diaz claims she eventually quit her position due to the physical and verbal abuse and threats of deportation by the supervisors at the club.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is in a unique position. As an immigrant and refugee from Somalia herself, the freshman congresswoman is bringing along someone with a similar story. She selected Linda Clark, an immigrant from Liberia who is threatened with deportation under the Deferred Enforcement Departure for Liberian Americans.

There will be at least another six Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients in attendance at this year’s SOTU. One of them is Jin Park, the first DACA recipient to become a Rhodes Scholar. He will be the guest for Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.).

Government Shutdown Workers

In a normal year, the State of the Union would’ve taken place last Tuesday. But this year, it was delayed following the longest government shutdown in American history and a scuffle between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the date of the address.

Now Democrats are bringing both federal employees that missed their paychecks and federal contractors who will never see the money they lost.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is bringing a federal contractor from his state. Van Hollen is one of the lawmakers leading the charge on making sure contractors get back pay during a shutdown.

On the last day of the shutdown, planes were grounded and delayed all over the country due to a shortage of air traffic controllers showing up to work. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) invited one of those air traffic controllers as his official SOTU guest.

In all, there will be at least 11 SOTU guests that were negatively affected by the shutdown.

There will be plenty more guests whose very presence make a political statement, form sexual assault survivors to citizens with pre-existing conditions. Republicans are playing the game as well. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump are bringing along an extensive guest list of their own.

What do you think?

9 pledges
Upvote Downvote
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Rocky Drummond

There has been almost no discussion on IJR about Trump businesses making it possible for undocumented immigrants to get the documents to work here. Why would the President want to hire such rapists and killers and put himself and his guests at risk? These supervisors even circumvented national security messures which allowed undocumented people to be near the President. How many of the golf club administration have been fired for their dangerous, complict actions?

Kerry Jones Macaitis

WTF is with the dems? Pelosi doesn’t want to fund a wall to protect AMERICAN citizens; however she does want $3+ billion for illegals? Why can’t you ask for it for AMERICAN CITIZENS who need it just as much if not more than ILLEGALS? This woman is CRAZY and I mean CRAZY. Her hatred for a POTUS who is doing a great job is hurting AMERICAN CITIZENS. Is there any way to get this female dog out of office?

Senate Environment Panel OKs Trump’s Pick to Lead EPA

House Panel Readies Subpoena to Compel Acting AG Whitaker’s Testimony