President Donald Trump expressed his willingness to work with Democrats on an immigration plan, but also made clear that his priority was the American people during Tuesday night’s State of the Union.
“As President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers and America’s forgotten communities,” he said.
Trump continued, “I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise.”
With the fates of “Dreamers” — the illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and were protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — still up in the air, the president indicated that he is willing to work with lawmakers to find a solution.
“Tonight, I am extending an open hard to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion and creed,” he said.
However, he created a new catchphrase and said, “Americans are dreamers too.”
“My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream,” Trump said. “Because Americans are dreamers too.”
The Trump administration’s immigration plan has been widely criticized, and he admitted during his speech that the four-pillar plan won’t please both sides, but it’s needed anyway.
The first pillar is a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 1.8 million illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Under Trump’s plan, these immigrants can become U.S. citizens over a period of 12 years.
Last week, the president said that he was open to granting citizenship to the young immigrants, given that they obey the law, contribute to the U.S. economy and show “good moral character.”
“We’re going to morph into it,” Trump said of a pathway to citizenship. “It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years.”
The second pillar — border security — involves “building a great wall on the southern border,” Trump said, in addition to hiring more agents to beef up security. The building of the border wall would follow through on a major tenet of Trump’s campaign platform.
As the third pillar, Trump called for an end to the visa lottery system, which he said randomly hands out green cards to immigrants. Instead, he wants a merit-based program that prioritizes skilled immigrants who will contribute to American society.
Finally, Trump said it is necessary to end chain migration. Though his point was met with scattered boos from Democrats in the crowd, Trump said such a move is “vital for the security and future of America.”
The president started the call to end chain migration and the visa lottery system after two sperate terrorist attacks rocked New York City within a month of each other late last year. Both of the perpetrators came into the country using chain migration and the lottery program.
This immigration plan, Trump said, represents him following through on his “iron-clad pledge to put America first.”
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