Trump Calls for Prison Reform and Links Violent Crime to Illegal Immigration
President Donald Trump offered a range of initiatives geared toward criminal justice reform during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. He started with a call for prison reform and solutions to help prisoners find work after their sentences end.
Then the president’s tone took a darker turn as he began to focus on crime resulting from what he called “open borders,” linking crime to what he considers unchecked illegal immigration. Gang members, such as those in the notorious MS-13 gang, the president said, are committing crimes in America due to immigration “loopholes” that allow violent criminals to “break into our country.”
Trump said the White House has proposed new immigration legislation, appearing to reference the bills being debated in Congress regarding funding for the proposed border wall and other immigration issues.
What Trump’s State of the Union Means for the Immigration Debate
President Donald Trump highlighted the need to increase funding for U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol programs during his State of the Union address, as part of his call for Congress to pass an immigration deal.
With just a matter of days until February 8, Congress watched closely for any clues as to what Trump will and won’t accept and whether the President can get slow-moving negotiations in Congress reignited.
During Tuesday’s speech, Trump largely stuck to the script of his “four pillars” for an immigration deal, and did not signal to congressional negotiators any openness to changing those demands.
The White House unveiled the framework of these pillars last week. The White House proposal offered a path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program but, demanded in exchange, $25 billion in border security funding and a significant overhaul for the legal immigration system.
Trump Pushes Hardline Immigration Policies Even as He Urges Unity
President Donald Trump, in his first State of the Union speech, gave no ground on the contentious issue of whether to shield young immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation. He urged lawmakers to work toward bipartisan compromises, but pushed a hard line on immigration, insisting on a border wall and other concessions from Democrats as part of any deal to protect the children of illegal immigrants.
Aiming to keep conservative supporters happy as he looks to November congressional elections, Trump stood by a set of principles opposed by Democrats, including the border wall with Mexico and new restrictions on how many family members that legal immigrants can bring into the United States.
“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” Trump said in his address.
Democrats Furious Over Trump’s Immigration Rhetoric
Democrats were infuriated by President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech, claiming the president put an immigration deal even further out of reach with what they called bigoted remarks during the 80-minute address.
After Trump and his White House team teased a bipartisan theme, the minority party was waiting to hear something conciliatory about how to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants facing deportation. Instead, Democrats booed Trump’s reference to “chain migration” and fumed afterward that his remarks conflated immigrants with gang members and did little to give so-called Dreamers any reassurance at all.
“The tone was of a divider-in-chief,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat for Connecticut, said in an interview.
Congressman Calls for Police to Arrest Undocumented Immigrants at State of the Union
Rep. Paul Gosar, known for his hard-line views on immigration, asked the Capitol Police and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “consider checking identification . . . and arresting any illegal aliens in attendance” as well as detaining anyone using “fraudulent social security numbers and identification to pass through security.” His tweets on the subject caused a wave of online outrage roughly seven hours before the speech was scheduled to begin.
The young people protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would not be affected by an ID check because they have social security numbers and legal work status, according to aides who helped organize their attendance. But some lawmakers might have invited immigrants without these documents to attend the speech, said the aides, who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the legal status of some guests.
“Of all the places where the Rule of Law needs to be enforced, it should be in the hallowed halls of Congress,” Gosar wrote on Twitter. “Any illegal aliens attempting to go through security, under any pretext of invitation or otherwise, should be arrested and deported.”
Denver District Attorney Joins Challenge to Trump Administration’s Immigration Policies
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann joined 32 other prosecutors and police leaders in challenging the Trump administration’s effort to tie funding for law enforcement to a city’s immigration policies.
McCann signed onto a brief to support the city of Los Angeles in its lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Los Angeles lawsuit argues against a Sessions policy to show preference when awarding grants from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to cities that pledge to assist with federal immigration enforcement.
The brief McCann signed argues that the Sessions policy would harm the trust and respect area law enforcement needs to have with local communities because people who fear deportation would not cooperate with criminal investigations. Local communities need to limit that cooperation in order to maintain those relationships, the brief said.
Judge Reviewing DACA Expiration Says He Can’t Ignore Trump’s Previous Statements On Immigration
- S. District Judge Nicholas, in New York, who’s hearing lawsuits challenging the cancellation of a program protecting some young immigrants from deportation said Tuesday that he can’t ignore President Donald Trump’s “vicious” anti-immigrant statements.
The judge is hearing lawsuits seeking to overturn the administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “In this country, in over 230 years, this is not ordinary,” Garaufis said during the hearing. “It’s extreme. It’s recurring. It’s vicious.”
The plaintiffs say the decision to end the program was motivated by racial animus against Latinos and is not based on any rational justification. “We don’t think the government has set out any rationale with clarity,” David Chen, a law student with Yale’s Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, told the judge.