Trump Will Honor Parents of MS-13 Victims in First State of the Union
Guest Evelyn Rodriguez remembers her 16-year-old daughter — who 'had her life ahead of her, and it was taken' by vicious thugs
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are welcoming the family members of victims killed by MS-13 gang members as their special guests during the chief executive’s first State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Some of Trump’s signature campaign promises included securing the border by building a wall, cracking down on illegal immigration, and purging illegal immigrant gang members from the country.
Trump’s theme for his first address is “Building a safe, strong and proud America,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said during Monday’s briefing. The Trumps will recognize four grieving parents of gang violence victims, including: Evelyn Rodriguez (pictured above right at the top of this article), Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens, according to Sanders.
"Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens are the parents of Nisa Mickens. Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas are the parents of Kayla Cuevas," the White House press office said in a news release. "Nisa and Kayla had been close friends since elementary school, but in September 2016, the two girls were chased down and brutally murdered."
The two teenaged girls' deaths "were among a string of 17 Long Island slayings that have been attributed to Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13," according to the release.
"She was an innocent girl, good girl — had her life ahead of her, and it was taken," Rodriguez said Tuesday on Fox News' "Fox & Friends." "Where I live, you didn't hear anything like that. And all of a sudden, you go to work, you come home, and your daughter is not home."
Rodriguez said she was "very honored" by the "privilege" of attending the State of the Union address as the Trumps' guest.
While the Trumps plan on bringing parents of victims killed by MS-13 gang members to the speech, multiple Democratic lawmakers will bring so-called dreamers — children of illegal immigrants who were brought into the U.S. — as their guests.
Congress currently is struggling to reach an immigration compromise that would give some form of amnesty to dreamers while securing Trump's immigration enforcement priorities, including border wall funding.
Celestino "CJ" Martinez, a supervisory special agent for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations unit, will be another Trump guest. The White House noted that Martinez spent "much of his 15-year tenure working to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, including MS-13."
"His investigations have led to more than 100 arrests of MS-13 gang members who have been prosecuted for crimes, including homicide, assault, and narcotics and weapons trafficking," the White House said. "CJ is a proud veteran, having honorably served our nation in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard for more than 22 years."
The Trumps' other guests include welder Corey Adams, Cajun Navy rescue organization founder Jon Bridgers, U.S. Coast Guard aviation electronics technician Ashlee Leppert, California-based fire prevention technician David Dahlberg, New Mexico-based police officer Ryan Holets, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Justin Peck, Flag and Flower Challenge founder Preston Sharp, Staub Manufacturing Solutions co-founders Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger, and retired Cpl. Matthew Bradford, who became the first blind and double amputee to re-enlist in the Marine Corps.
"Some of these individuals' stories are heroic, some are patriotic, others are tragic," Sanders said during Monday's press briefing. "But all of them represent the unbreakable American spirit, and will inspire our nation to continue growing stronger, prouder, and more prosperous."
The first lady took to Twitter on Tuesday to welcome her guests, writing, "I will be joined tonight by an honorable group of Americans. Sitting with me are heroes who have served our nation in times of need, families who have suffered at the hands of evil, and citizens who have embraced the American dream. #SOTU."