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It's A Varied SOTU Guest List For HV Congressional Members

President Trump addressing a joint session of Congress in February 2017.

President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address Tuesday night. Some Hudson Valley members of Congress plan to make a statement with their guests. Others have invited family members.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee from New York’s17th District, invited Rockland County resident and DREAMer Hugo Alexander Acosta Mazariego as her guest.

“He’s an exceptional young man who came here at the age of 15. His parents brought him here. And he is married now. He has an excellent job with Apple. And he’s a very thoughtful person,” Lowey says. “And we’ve had many long conversations about DACA and the importance of resolving the DACA issue.”

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an Obama-era program that protects certain young undocumented immigrants — known as DREAMers — from deportation.  President Trump has said he would end the program that expires in March. Lowey says this puts some 800,000 DREAMers at risk of deportation. Acosta Mazariego’s DACA status expires in November. Lowey speaks to her expectations for the president’s speech.

“It’s hard for me to expect anything from this president. He says what he wants to say, and I hope that he’s positive and I hope that he’s an inspiration because he’s still the president of the United States,” says Lowey. “So I hope that he will be thoughtful, he’ll talk about the importance of moving the DACA legislation, talk about an infrastructure plan. I would like to work with him on a bipartisan infrastructure plan, and get a budget, fund the government long term. We still don’t have a budget.”

19th District Republican Congressman John Faso is bringing his wife while Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the 18th District is taking his brother. Maloney says he’ll be listening for calls from Trump for unity and bipartisanship. And he hopes the president will focus on taking care of veterans, comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure investment and the opioid epidemic.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer is putting the spotlight on the opioid epidemic with his guest, Stephanie Keegan. The Westchester resident is the mother of a veteran who overdosed on heroin while waiting to be seen at his local VA Hospital. Schumer is calling on Congress to invest in more opioid treatment and prevention programs.

New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that her guest is San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. Gillibrand is urging Trump and her congressional colleagues to act to address the disaster in Puerto Rico four months after Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Following the hurricanes, Trump tweeted criticism of Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts and leadership, and San Juan’s mayor fired back.

New York Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel of the 16th district spent the day of the State of the Union differently than in past decades. Engel, who historically arrived to the chamber in the early morning to stake out an aisle spot to shake hands with the president, did not this time. Engel ended the practice after 29 years in February 2017 at Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress.

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