President Trump gave his first State of the Union address, and it almost made history.
The speech came in as the third longest State of the Union address behind Bill Clinton, who has the two longest. During the one hour and 20-minute long address, Trump covered myriad topics, from infrastructure spending to immigration. As per custom, the president invited guests to sit in the audience during his speech. Those guests included parents of teenage girls killed by gang members, law enforcement officers, active and retired military, a member of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and a North Korea defector. Trump pushed for slowing immigration in order to curb violence he believes immigrants inflict on the country, and spoke about his 4-point plan to limit immigration.
Here’s a quick overview of his immigration plan.
President Trump opened up the immigration portion of his speech talking about gang violence and murders.
Why is that whenever the President speaks of immigration it always seems to be in the context of gang members and murderers? There were dozens of DREAMers at the #SOTU tonight who could teach him a lot about immigrants.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 31, 2018
“Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families,” Trump said. “For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans.”
Trump likened unaccompanied minors to MS-13 gang members, stating that “these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as illegal, unaccompanied, alien minors.” This was after he pointed out Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens, whose two daughters were killed by MS-13 gang members on Long Island.
That opening was a segue to discuss a “four-pillar plan” to tackle immigration reform.
Trump’s four pillars on immigration is not a “down-the-middle compromise,” it was drafted by nativist Stephen Miller. It will go after black and brown immigrants, increase deportations, and separate families.
— Cristina Jimenez (@CrisAlexJimenez) January 31, 2018
First, Trump wants to offer as many as 1.8 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. According to The Washington Post, that number comes from 1.3 million people who meet all the requirements from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This includes certain age requirements, education levels of a high school diploma or the equivalent, their current age, and when they entered the U.S. The other 500,000 would be chosen because they are either under 15 or they meet all DACA requirements except for the educational component. This is a stark change from the hard-line stance of no amnesty and no citizenship from the past.
Second, he wants $25 billion in American tax dollars to pay for the border wall since Mexico is not paying for it. According to David Aguilar, a former Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and former National Chief of the United States Border Patrol, what’s most wanted is more personnel. Some of the money Trump wants will pay for more personnel but he was clear about wanting money for the border wall.
Third, Trump wants to end the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program that he blames for recent terror attacks in New York City. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, referred to as the visa lottery program, was created to boost immigration from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of State, the program offers 50,000 visas annually to people who meet strict requirements before being allowed to enter the U.S. Some of the countries with the highest number of visa winners include The Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Cuba.
Fourth, Trump wants to end “chain migration.” This is also referred to as “family reunification” but is officially known as Family Based-Immigrant Visas. These break down into two categories, according to the U.S. Department of State‘s website: Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas and Family Preference Immigrant Visas. The first one is for immediate family members such as spouses, unmarried children under 21, adopted orphans, and the parents of U.S. citizens under 21. The second category is for unmarried children, minor children, spouses, married children and their children, and siblings with their spouses and children if the sponsor is a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old.
Trump also took a shot at Dreamers during a turbulent time.
'Americans Are Dreamers Too' is perfect for people who liked 'All Lives Matter' but thought it was lacking in xenophobia.
— Johan Miranda (@JohanComedy) January 31, 2018
During the speech, Trump used his platform to undermine the struggles and fears of Dreamers as they face an uncertain future. According to a CBS News poll, 87 percent of the American public approve of giving DACA recipients citizenship. Seventy-nine percent of Republican voters are in favor of legalizing a community that has been here since childhood.
If you want to learn more about what Trump said at the State of the Union, click here to read the full transcript.