state of the union

The Guests to Look Out for at the State of the Union

Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib
Clockwise from the top: Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Every year, the political overlords bestow upon every member of Congress a plus-one ticket to bring a guest of their choosing to the State of the Union. While some simply hand off their ticket to a family member, others bring a person whose presence is a nod to a specific political policy or cause.

Tonight, Donald Trump will deliver his address to many people who have suffered under his inhumane policies: mothers prevented from seeing their dying children because of the Muslim ban, families separated at the border, and transgender service members. Below, here’s a handful of notable guests who will be in the audience.

The sexual-assault survivor who confronted Senator Jeff Flake during the Kavanaugh hearings
After dropping hints about her State of the Union guest over the weekend, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced on Monday that she was bringing Ana Maria Archila, one of the women who confronted Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator after he vocalized his intent to vote for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“She’s living proof that the courage within all of us can change [the world],” Ocasio-Cortez said of Archila.

Two of Trump’s former housekeepers
Last December, two undocumented immigrants bravely spoke out about the alleged physical and verbal abuse they endured while working as housekeepers at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey; tonight, they will watch Trump’s address from the House Chamber. California representative Jimmy Gomez will host Sandra Diaz, and New Jersey representative Bonnie Watson Coleman will host Victorina Morales.

“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,” Coleman said of Morales, elaborating that her guest represents “the face of Donald Trump’s hypocrisy.”

The Yemeni mother prevented from visiting her dying son in the U.S.
California representatives Zoe Lofgren and Jerry McNerney will co-host Shaima Swileh, the Yemeni national who was blocked last December from entering the U.S. to say good-bye to her dying 2-year-old son due to the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban, as well as her husband, Ali Hassan. It was only after widespread outcry that Swileh was finally granted a waiver to see her child, Abdullah Hassan, one last time.

Mothers and children who were ripped apart at the border under Trump’s family-separation policy
To make a statement about the Trump administration’s cruel border policies, New York representative Adriano Espaillat and Oregon senator Jeff Merkley are separately hosting immigrant families affected by the “zero tolerance” policy: Yeni Gonzalez Garcia, a Guatemalan mother who was forcibly separated from her three children, and Albertina Contreras, another Guatemalan mother who was ripped apart and detained separately from her 11-year-old daughter, Yakelin.

“We must bear witness to the suffering that Trump’s child separation policy inflicted,” Merkley said.

A transgender service member and LGBTQ-rights activist
New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand is among the politicians bringing transgender service members in a nod to Trump’s transgender military ban. Navy Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann, who’s also the president of SPARTA, an LGBTQ military advocacy organization focused on the aforementioned cause, will accompany Gillibrand.

The Guests to Look Out for at the State of the Union