West Point Cadet Simone Askew

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D) has invited West Point Cadet Simone Askew to accompany him to President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Originally from Fairfax County, Askew is the first African-American female student to hold the top spot of "first captain" at the U.S. military academy.

Rep. Gerald Connolly invited a DACA “dreamer” from Annandale, while Rep. Rob Wittman will be accompanied by the president of Rappahannock Community College.

Sen. Mark Warner will bring a history-making West Point student from Fairfax County, while Sen. Tim Kaine will host a military wife and mom from Portsmouth.

Like most federal lawmakers, Virginia’s senators and representatives will attend President Donald J. Trump’s first State of the Union address tonight with constituent guests whose accomplishments underscore their political priorities.

This year, more than 20 members of Congress have invited young-adult recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which remains in limbo ahead of upcoming budget negotiations between Trump and congressional Democrats. The president has said he’s willing to extend DACA as part of a budget deal to keep the federal government open beyond Feb. 8, but only in exchange for changes to other long-standing immigration policies.

Connolly, D-11th, an advocate of the DACA program, invited “dreamer” Nicolle Uria, a teen who attends Annandale High School. Uria’s family immigrated to the United States 16 years ago, and her DACA status will expire this September, according to a press release issued by Connolly’s office.

“Nicolle is a bright, talented student who until last September lived the American dream. She was looking forward to going to college and to running her own media company one day,” Connolly said in a statement.

“She came here when she was just 1 year old. This country is all she has ever known and through her volunteer work she has made our community better,” he added. “She and so many other dreamers are exactly the young people we don’t want to turn away from our country. They are what makes America such a great nation.”

Meanwhile, Wittman, R-1st, will host Elizabeth Crowther, president of Rappahannock Community College, as his guest tonight.

In a statement, Wittman praised RCC for its work to train workers for the marine trades, which are central to the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula region economy. Wittman also credited Crowther for helping the college foundation raise more than $1 million for student scholarships. Virginia’s 1st District extends from Nokesville to the Eastern Shore.

Virginia’s two senators chose representatives of the U.S. military community as guests. Warner (D) invited West Point Cadet Simone Askew, originally from Fairfax County, who is the first African-American woman to be first captain of the military academy’s Corps of Cadets. In the position, Askew oversees about 4,400 of her fellow cadets.

"Cadet Askew has earned her place at the top among the students at West Point, showing a remarkable dedication to her studies and a deep commitment to service," said Warner in a statement. "It is an honor to help showcase her journey, which may one day inspire the next generation of women to break new barriers."

Kaine (D), meanwhile, will sit alongside Lakesha Cole, a Virginia native, military spouse and mom from Portsmouth who was named the 2014 Military Spouse of the Year by Armed Forces Insurance.

Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus and father of a U.S. Marine, has made reducing military spouse unemployment one of his top priorities over the past year, according to a statement.

Military families frequently face financial insecurity due to spousal unemployment, which impacts the overall success of our military. Between 12 and 25 percent of military spouses are unemployed, Kaine’s statement said.

“After five transfers herself, Lakesha knows firsthand how much military spouses sacrifice in service to our country and the toll that can take on a spouse’s career and their family,” Kaine said. “She has gone above and beyond the call of duty, and is not only thriving as a successful small business owner but also mentors other military spouses and aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Reach Jill Palermo at jpalermo@fauquier.com.

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