(BIVN) – President Biden will deliver his State of the Union speech today, and there will be a few notable attendees from Hawaiʻi in Washington D.C. for the event.
From U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono:
U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) has invited Kalei Grant, a Native Hawaiian trafficking survivor leader who now advocates for other survivors of sex trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence, to be her guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address. Last month, Kalei participated in a roundtable discussion—convened by Senator Hirono—with Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence and organizations that support them. The roundtable followed passage of Senator Hirono’s bill to allow Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence to access critical programs and resources provided by Congress through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
“As a Native Hawaiian survivor of gender-based violence, Kalei Grant is working to help combat the crisis of violence against Native women and girls,” said Senator Hirono. “I admire and appreciate her commitment to raising awareness and supporting other survivors, and I’m honored to have her as my guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address. Last year, we made important progress by passing my bill to finally enable Native Hawaiian organizations to use funds from the Violence Against Women Act to support Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration, my colleagues in Congress, and advocates like Kalei to build on this success and advance justice for Native Hawaiian women and girls.”
Kalei Grant is a survivor of domestic sex trafficking. She was trafficked in Hawaii, where she was born and raised. After nearly two years of being held against her will, she escaped from her trafficker. When she healed, she turned back to help others trapped in commercial sexual exploitation. She now works for the Department of the Attorney General in Hawaii’s Missing Child Center. In 2021, she received the National Child Protection Award from the U.S. Department of Justice in recognition of her efforts in Operation Shine the Light, a cooperative effort between Missing Child Center-Hawaii; federal, state and local law enforcement agencies; and four nonprofit organizations.
Senator Hirono has been a vocal advocate for the Native Hawaiian community and efforts to combat violence against Native Hawaiians. In December, President Biden signed into law legislation introduced by Senator Hirono to allow Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence to access critical programs and resources provided by Congress through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Last August, she pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray to do more to protect the Native Hawaiian community from sexual exploitation at a full Judiciary Committee hearing and emphasized the need for the FBI to include the Native Hawaiian community in its efforts to address the missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis and violence against Native communities. Senator Hirono also joined a resolution designating May 5th as National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“Kalei has made it her life’s work to protect and advocate for other survivors of sex trafficking and gender-based violence in our state,” said Attorney General of Hawaiʻi Anne Lopez. “I am proud and inspired by Kalei’s exemplary service to the people of Hawaiʻi and as a proud Native Hawaiian survivor leader on the national stage. We fully support Senator Hirono’s granting this great honor for Kalei’s contributions and for the Senator’s tireless efforts to ensure Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence have access to programs and resources through the Violence Against Women Act.”
Hawaiʻi Governor Josh Green will also be in Washington for President’s address. From the Office of the Governor:
Governor Josh Green, M.D. will travel to Washington, D.C. from Monday afternoon, Feb. 6 through the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 12. Gov. Green will attend President Joseph Biden’s State of the Union Address, meet with members of Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation and will attend the National Governors Association Winter Meeting.
Gov. Green also has meetings scheduled with cabinet secretaries for the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation and Health and Human Services, as well as timely meetings with the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. A highlight of the trip will be a state dinner with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, Ph.D.
The governor will be traveling with First Lady Jaime Green, Chief of Staff Brooke Wilson and her Special Assistant, Cameron Deptula.
Gov. Green is scheduled to return to Honolulu on Sunday, Feb. 12. Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke will serve as acting governor while Gov. Green is out-of-state.
During his first State of the Union address, President Biden announced a four-part “Unity Agenda”, which was “ending cancer as we know it; delivering on the sacred obligation to veterans; tackling the mental health crisis; and beating the opioid and overdose epidemic.” In today’s address, President Biden “will announce a new set of policies to continue to make progress advancing his Unity Agenda and deliver results for families across the country.”