In his State of the Union address delivered Tuesday, President Donald Trump demanded the U.S. welcome more legal immigrants while continuing to crack down on unauthorized crossings.
President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address purportedly strayed from its script as the commander-in-chief called for legal immigrants to arrive “in the largest numbers ever.”
POLITICO reports that Trump, still insisting that the nation construct a wall along its southern border, described another “moral duty.” Suggesting the reformation of an immigration system intended to protect Americans from external threats, Trump noted a different obligation to “the millions of immigrants living here today who follow the rules and respected our laws.”
“Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways,” Trump said. “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.”
According to POLITICO, the ad-lib was a divergence from the prepared text, which read: “Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen or society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.”
White House aides indicated that Trump spent ‘a lot of time’ preparing his State of the Union address. Consequently, he wasn’t expected to go off script or otherwise alter his message at the last minute.
Trump also tried to position himself as a grand negotiator, capable of reaching across party lines to build a wall.
“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” Trump said. “Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future.”
Tremendous numbers of people are coming up through Mexico in the hopes of flooding our Southern Border. We have sent additional military. We will build a Human Wall if necessary. If we had a real Wall, this would be a non-event!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2019
But, as the New York Times notes, any hopes for increased bipartisan collaboration were quashed by context: Trump spent ‘the hours before, during and after the address’ swapping insults with Democratic lawmakers.
House Speaker Pelosi seemed less than enthused throughout the speech, lightly clapping when the president touched on some aspects of the Democratic agenda. Her visibly pained clapping during one segment of the speech even spawned an internet meme.
And even as Trump posited greater protections and concessions for legal immigrants, he continued hammering down on unauthorized crossings.
“This is a moral issue,” Trump said. “No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration.”
“Wealthy politicians and donors,” the president added, “push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.”
Tension between the so-called ‘political class’ and Trump escalated even in the hours leading up to the State of Union. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer ‘panned’ the address before it was even delivered, decrying the president as a hypocrite for demanding unity as he sows division.
Along with immigration, Trump touched on concluding “endless wars” in Syria and Afghanistan. His foreign policy objectives seem centered around combating Iranian influence and forcing a compromise in Venezuela’s crisis-stricken socio-political nexus.