As is the custom, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have invited several special guests to the President's third State of the Union address. They include an Army veteran, a military widow, a US Border Patrol official, and a toddler who was a "miracle" micro-preemie.
Tony Rankins from Cincinnati, Ohio: After serving in the United States Army in Afghanistan, Tony Rankins suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and became addicted to drugs. He lost his job and his family, served several prison sentences, and ended up living out of his car. A company called "R Investments" helped train Tony in carpentry, painting, brickwork, and other construction trades. Today, he works in an Opportunity Zone in Cincinnati, Ohio, and his new job has helped him overcome drug addiction and reunite with his family.
Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz from Del Rio, Texas: Deputy Chief Ortiz has helped protect America's homeland for nearly three decades. Prior to joining U.S. Border Patrol in 1991, Ortiz served in the United States Army. In 2019, he became Chief Patrol Agent of the Del Rio Sector, which made him responsible for all Border Patrol operations in 41 Texas counties – including 210 miles of border between the United States and Mexico. Recently, Ortiz was promoted to Deputy Chief of US Border Patrol, the second in command for more than 20,000 agents and professional staff. His awards include the Superior Civilian Service Medal, among the Department of Defense's highest civilian honors.
Jody Jones from Farmersville, California: On December 17, 2018, Jody's brother, Rocky Jones, was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant in Tulare County, California. The criminal alien who committed this brutal murder had previously been arrested for violent crimes and had been deported twice. The criminal alien was arrested in December 2018 for the sixth time, but because of California's sanctuary state policy, he was released from jail. A few days later, the criminal alien went on a 24-hour "reign of terror," injuring several people, robbing a gas station, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase, and killing 51-year old Rocky, who was known as a kind and gentle soul. Rocky leaves behind a precious daughter and 4 brothers who are still grieving the loss of their loved one.
Ellie and Robin Schneider from Kansas City, Missouri: Ellie was born at just 21 weeks and six days. She is one of the youngest babies to survive in the United States. With the help of an incredible medical team – and the prayers of her parents and their community – Ellie kept beating the odds, exceeding milestones, and fighting for life. Today, Ellie is a happy, healthy two-year-old girl who brings endless joy to her mother, Robin, and her entire family.
Janiyah and Stephanie Davis from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Janiyah is a fourth-grade student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She loves art and math, but for too long she has been assigned to low-performing schools. Her mom, Stephanie, is a hard-working single mother who is hoping for the expansion of school choice to be able to send Janiyah to a school that best serves her needs.
Kelli and Gage Hake from Stillwater, Oklahoma: Kelli Hake was at home with her one-year-old son, Gage, when she received the terrible news that her husband, Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake, had been killed serving on his second tour of duty in Iraq. While on patrol, Sergeant Hake's Bradley fighting vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb supplied by the Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani. Kelli and Gage directly suffered from Soleimani's campaign to kill and maim U.S. service members. Last month, President Donald J. Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani as he was once again trying to initiate attacks on American service members.
Paul Morrow from Montgomery, Alabama: Paul is a United States Army veteran. After leaving the military, Morrow started a successful contracting business and today is building a new concrete plant in an Opportunity Zone in Montgomery, Alabama. This new plant will help support several brand new F-35 jets that are stationed in the region.
Ivan Simonovis from Caracas, Venezuela: Ivan was the Chief of Police in Venezuela's capital city and esteemed as the nation's top cop. He was imprisoned in 2004 for protecting protesters and was held in captivity for nearly 15 years by the Chavez and Maduro regimes. He escaped from Venezuela in 2019 and was brought to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where immigration agents welcomed him to the United States.