Who's going to Trump's State of the Union address? A look at Congress' special guests

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Washington, D.C.-, January 30, 2018 | comments

There may be a few more empty chairs at the State of the Union (SOTU) this year, as several Democrats have announced plans to boycott the event

Their colleagues, on the other hand, have promised to fill dozens of seats with so-called "Dreamers," the nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants who were brought into the country as children.

Members of the House and Senate are each allowed to bring one guest of their choosing. And the list just keeps growing.

From immigrants to Army veterans, here are just a few of the guests invited to Trump's SOTU address on Tuesday.

Immigrants and Dreamers

Dr. Bennet Omalu: The Nigerian pathologist who first discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in NFL players will attend the SOTU as a guest of Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif. Omalu was recently portrayed by Will Smith in the film “Concussion.”

Brandon Judd: The president of the National Border Patrol Council, who has praised Trump's success on immigration reform, will be a guest of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Cindy Garcia: The wife of 39-year-old Jorge, who was deported back to Mexico after living in the U.S. for nearly 30 years, will join Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., at Trump's SOTU address, according to The Detroit News.

Viviana Andazola Marquez: The daughter of Melecio Andazola Morales, who was deported from Denver two months ago, will also attend the SOTU as a guest of Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., according to The Denver Post.

Denea Joseph: The Dreamer, who came to the U.S. from Belize when she was 7, is an UndocuBlack Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient. She will be the guest of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

Sunayana Dumala: The wife of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old Indian immigrant who was shot to death in a suspected hate crime last February at Austins Bar & Grill in Kansas City, will be a guest of Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan.

Business and tax overhaul

Avery Smith: A heavy equipment operator from Little Suamico, Wisconsin, received an invite from Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

Greg Rynearson: The president of Cops & Doughnuts in Clare, Michigan, will share his small business success story with SOTU attendees on Tuesday. He'll be attending the event as a guest of Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich.

Tommy Fisher: Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said the president and CEO of Fisher Industries, "one of the six companies given a contract to develop a prototype for construction of a border wall," will attend the SOTU as his guest.

Bill Nye: "Bill Nye the Science Guy" has railed against the Trump administration’s views on climate change. He rallied thousands in Washington, D.C., to March for Science in April. He'll attend the SOTU as a guest of Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla.

McKenzie Harrington-Bacote: The program administrator for the Office of School Wellness in the Laconia School District in New Hampshire will be the "guest of honor" of Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH.

Dani Hall: Hall, who uses medical marijuana to ease the pain of a birth defect that affects her lower spine, will be a guest of Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla.

Caroline Johnson: The mother of three and wife of Scott Johnson, a former Coast Guard officer and firefighter who died from colorectal cancer in August, will attend as a guest of Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn.

Shelly Elkington: The mother from Montevideo, Minnesota, who has been leading the fight against the opioid crisis after the death of her daughter, Casey Jo Schulte, agreed to be a guest of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Sexual assault and harassment

Chessy Prout: A high school student who survived sexual assault by a fellow student at a New Hampshire prep school will be a guest of Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H.

Jennifer Storm: Commonwealth’s Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm, who's responsible for representing the rights of crime victims before the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole and the Department of Corrections, will be the guest of Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Pa.

Law enforcement

Sarah Pratt: The daughter of fallen New York State Police Trooper Timothy Pratt will be a guest of Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY. "Our law enforcement families make incredible sacrifices on behalf of our communities and I am humbled by the opportunity to host Sarah in our nation’s Capital," Stefanik announced on Twitter last week.

Taylor Nielsen: The police officer from Boone County, Indiana, has been struggling with mental health issues after witnessing a double homicide in February 2016. Eight months after the incident, Nielson attempted suicide. She'll be attending the SOTU as a guest of Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

Donato Panico: The former owner of Panico’s Community Market in Smithtown, New York, formed a nonprofit after the 9/11 terror attacks to serve sandwiches to first responders. He was surprised with an invite to the SOTU by Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.

Military members and veterans

Ricky Taylor: The two-tour Army veteran volunteered to fill the empty seat of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., at the SOTU. So, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., decided to take Taylor up on his offer.

Lynda Bengtsson-Davis: The transgender Marine Corps veteran, who has called Trump’s attempted transgender military ban "wrong," will attend the SOTU as a guest of Rep. Jared Huffman, D-CA, according to The Press Democrat.

Staff Sgt. Patricia King: The transgender soldier will be the guest of Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., who will deliver the Democratic response to Trump's SOTU address, according to a report by The Boston Globe. "I have served for almost 19 years. And all of a sudden, it is all hanging in the balance," King told The Globe.

State and local government

Tim Moore: The speaker of the North Carolina State House will be a guest of Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C.

Mike Nerheim: The Lake County state’s attorney from Illinois will be a guest of Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.

Sen. Kwame Raoul: The Illinois state senator will be a guest of Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill.

Puerto Rico relief

Carmen Yulín Cruz: The mayor of San Juan will join Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., at the SOTU on Tuesday. "Throughout the crisis in Puerto Rico, Mayor Cruz has shown extraordinary leadership and fearless advocacy for her city," Gillibrand announced in a tweet Monday.

Emmanuel Ortiz-Nazario: The 30-year-old from Puerto Rico relocated with his wife and two children to Orlando after Hurricane Maria hit their hometown. He will be a guest of Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.

Claudia Sofía Báez Solá: After Hurricane Maria hit, the 18-year-old who was born and raised in Caguas, Puerto Rico, relocated to Orlando, where she attends Valencia College. She will attend the SOTU as a guest of Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla.

Brenda Irizarry: The 43-year-old Tampa Bay-area resident, who serves on Castor’s Task Force on Puerto Rico Recovery & Assistance, started collecting supplies for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit. She will be a guest of Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.


Stephen Willeford: The Texas man was dubbed a "hero" for responding to a shooting at a Sutherland Springs church. Willeford exchanged gunfire with the man, hopped in a truck and chased after the gunman. He'll attend the SOTU alongside Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.

Christine Levinson: The wife of Bob Levinson, the former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran a decade ago, will be a guest of Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.

Content originally published by Fox News on January 30, 2018.
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