Tonight, President Trump will give a joint address to Congress. We can expect a dark speech from President Trump that is short on facts and long on fear-mongering against immigrants, Muslims and refugees.
In direct contrast to this pessimistic vision, however, stand the American immigrants, refugees, and Muslims who will be in attendance this evening. They offer a direct rebuke to Trump’s depictions of newcomers as takers, criminals and terrorists.
An array of Democratic elected officials have invited immigrants, Muslims, refugees, and those already affected by Trump’s hardline policies to attend the joint address. By their examples, we see that America’s motto of E Pluribus Unum — Out of Many, One — is alive and well, and that the diversity of America remains a sign of our nation’s strength and resiliency.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
The lives these guests lead stand in stark contrast to Trump’s relentless campaign of xenophobia and scapegoating. They came to America, and stay in America, because it is a land of opportunity. They offer a reminder of the true America — a hopeful and optimistic nation worth fighting for, made up of people from every corner of the globe who are Americans not because they share blood or creed but because they share ideals and values. We stand for the optimism these new Americans inspire, and we stand against the pessimism the new President spreads.
In addition to the guests in the joint address audience, immigrant leader Astrid Silva of Nevada will be delivering the Democratic Party’s response in Spanish. “Astrid is a great movement leader and her speech will be a source of pride for those of us working to stop Trump’s mass deportation policies,” said Sharry. “In Trump’s speech, we will see a fearful, angry and diminished America. In Astrid’s speech, we will see the future of an inclusive, hopeful and expansive America.”
Immigrant Guests At The Joint Address
In addition to Astrid, many other advocates for American immigrants, refugees, and Muslims will be in attendance. They include:
- Rev. Keary Kincannon, the pastor of the Fairfax County, VA church and hypothermia shelter where ICE agents waited outside to question and detain a group of Latino men leaving the church. Rev. Kincannon will accompany Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.
- The children of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, the Arizona woman who was deported away from her U.S. citizen kids after a voluntarily check-in with ICE related to an old charge of working with fake papers. They are hosted by Arizona Representatives Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego.
- Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York will host Hameed Darweesh, the Iraqi interpreter who worked with the U.S. Army for a decade, whose treatment in the United States inspired litigation against Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Judy Chu are also bringing guests impacted by the policy.
- Rep. Joe Crowley will bring Sarker Haque, a Queens business owner who was attacked in his store in 2015, allegedly by a man claiming he wanted to “kill Muslims.”
- Seattle-area Rep. Pramila Jayapal will be joined by Aneelah Afzali, a Muslim-American and longtime community activist whose mosque was vandalized after the 2016 elections.
- Reps. Langevin, Takano, Johnson, and Lawrence are bringing leaders and advocates from the Muslim community.
- Senator Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Mark Veasey, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky will be accompanied by refugees and their advocates.
- Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Reps. Polis, Quigley, Nadler, and Pocan are hosting Dreamers/DACA recipients.
- Rep. Filemon Vela will be bringing celebrity chef and proud immigrant José Andrés.
The stories of these patriotic Americans offer a direct rebuttal to Trump’s slander against immigrants, refugees and Muslims. In addition, national security experts have consistently decried Trump’s policies as reckless, dangerous, and unwise. Last week, a leaked DHS intelligence analysis disputes the idea that citizens from these seven nations pose a unique threat, calling citizenship an “unreliable indicator of terrorist threat to the United States.”
Another important resource for reporting tonight will be the new immigration data website created by New American Economy, MapTheImpact.org. The site includes an interactive map showing the economic power of immigrants in all 50 states, the 55 largest U.S. cities, and each of the 435 Congressional districts (hint, immigrants are really really good for the American economy).