(CNSNews.com) - President Donald Trump used his first State of the Union address to detail his immigration reform plan and to call on Congress to work together to protect the nation, reminding Congress that “Americans are dreamers too.”
“Tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties -- Democrats and Republicans -- to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. 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, because Americans are dreamers too,” he said.
In addition to honoring the parents of two teenage girls who were murdered by MS-13 in Long Island, N.Y., Trump heralded the bravery of his invited guest - Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez, who spent the last 15 years “fighting gang violence and getting dangerous criminals off our streets.”
“At one point, MS-13 leaders ordered CJ's murder, but he did not cave to threats or to fear. Last May, he commanded an operation to track down gang members on Long Island. His team has arrested nearly 400, including more than 220 from MS-13 gang members, and I have to tell you what the Border Patrol and ICE have done,” Trump said.
“We have sent thousands and thousands and thousands of MS-13 horrible people out of this country or into our prisons, so I just want to congratulate you, CJ. You’re a brave guy,” the president said. “And I asked CJ, what’s the secret? He said, ‘we’re just tougher than they are,’ and I like that answer.
Trump called on Congress to send Martinez and other law enforcement officers like him reinforcements.
“Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package. In recent months, my administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform. Based on these discussions, we presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise -- one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs and must have,” he said.
The four pillars of the immigration reform plan are: offering a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA recipients, securing the border, ending the visa lottery system, and ending chain migration the way it currently exists.
“The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age -- that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration covered. Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States,” Trump said.
“The second pillar fully secures the border. That means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country -- and it finally ends the dangerous practice of ‘catch and release,’” he said.
“The third pillar ends the visa lottery -- a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people. It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system -- one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country,” the president said.
“The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future,” he added.
Trump’s comments on chain migration were met by boos from Democrats in attendance.
Trump said his immigration reform plan “represents a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.”
“For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen. Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first. So let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done,” he said.