Congressional members pick guests who counter Trump policies

WASHINGTON (WHDH/AP) — Members of Massachusetts’ all-Democratic congressional delegation are inviting guests to President Donald Trump’s speech Tuesday night who they hope will put human faces on some of his policies.

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey has invited Said Ahmed, a teacher in the Boston Public Schools and refugee who fled violence in his home country of Somalia at age 12.

Trump is trying to limit immigration and refugees from seven predominantly-Muslim countries including Somalia.

Markey said people like Ahmed, who founded a nonprofit aimed at helping young Somali refugees in Boston, show how short-sighted Trump’s travel ban is.

“America offered Said a safe refuge from violence, and, in return, he offered us his energy, his intelligence and his skills,” Markey said.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern invited Dr. Babak Movahedi to attend the Republican president’s speech. Movahedi is a transplant surgeon at UMass Memorial Medical Center whose family left Iran as refugees when he was 14 to escape the war between Iraq and Iran.

Movahedi was granted asylum in Belgium and is worried about how the travel ban could affect his family in Belgium.

“I want President Trump to see that America’s diversity is our greatest strength,” McGovern said.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has invited Tiba Faraj, whose family fled Iraq in 2006 when her father was shot and disabled after working for an American-backed development organization. Faraj arrived in Massachusetts in 2010 with her parents, became an American citizen and studies accounting at UMass-Dartmouth.

Iran and Iraq are also on Trump’s travel ban list.

Trump has defended the temporary ban, saying it’s needed to help defend against potential terror threats.

Members of the Massachusetts delegation aren’t just focused on the travel ban.

Congresswoman Katherine Clark has invited Veronica Serrato, whose parents emigrated from Mexico. Serrato heads up Project Citizenship, which works to increase the naturalization rates for legal permanent residents.

“I want Trump to know that he’s not just addressing Congress, he’s addressing families at home who are hurt by his divisive policies,” Clark said.

U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy has invited Jen Fox, an intern in his office who says her life was saved by President Barack Obama’s health care law when she was 19 and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Trump has pledged to repeal and replace the 2010 law.

U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano said he is not inviting anyone and while that is partially for practical reasons, he said he is also making his own statement.

“Up until now, there is no one I know in my district who wants to come,” said Capuano. “Thus far, he has said nothing that any of my constituents want to hear. I’m making a point as well. Right now, he is going to be speaking to an empty chair in my constituency.”

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