MN State of the Union guests make statement on immigration, international trade
(KMSP) - President Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday night. The speech is expected to be a non-traditional, upbeat assessment of the country, but in the House chambers, at least two Minnesotans are hoping the president takes a stand on the enforcement of trade agreements and the value of immigrants.
Dan Hill and Abdirahman Kahin were invited by Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Franken to make not-so-subtle statements.
Hill is an Iron Range miner laid off from United Taconite in Eveleth, Minn. and is Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s guest for the president’s speech. The collapsing steel market has driven huge unemployment along Minnesota's Iron Range.
Of all the people flying in as invited guests of congressmen and senators to listen to the president’s speech tonight, Hill may be the only one who had an early morning audience in the Oval Office.
Hill was in the audience last month when White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough flew to the Iron Range to see the local impact of the collapsing steel market. Hill met with him there and again in the Oval Office on Tuesday.
"We talked a little bit. I think we got both the chief of staff and hopefully the president listening to what we have to say now,” Hill told Fox 9.
What the president will say tonight, no one yet knows. However, Sen. Klobuchar hopes for a commitment to steel workers.
"We want to hear some strong comments about enforcing the trade rules and the fact that our workers matter, that the middle class counts here and that we have to do everything we can to make sure that our workers can compete on an even playing field,” Klobuchar said.
Kahin, the founder and owner of the Afro Deli and Café in Minneapolis, is Sen. Al Franken's guest inside the House chambers for the State of the Union. His presence is meant to send a message on the value that immigrants bring to our country.
Kahin's co-workers could not be more proud.
“It's an honor not just for the Somali community, but for the whole immigrant community, being represented by Kahin, going to Washington,” Afro Deli’s executive chef, Moussa Doualeh said. “It's a blessing. It is a blessing to be recognized in that way."
Doualeh would like to hear President Obama take a stand.
"I would love to hear him acknowledging, especially with the debate going on right now, that all immigrants aren't that bad. We got a lot of positive input on this country,” Doualeh said.