White House: Trump Will Play Up ‘Safe and Legal’ Immigration in State of the Union

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

White House deputies are playing up the role of immigration in the President’s State of the Union speech, setting alarms among immigration reformers.

“I’m concerned that in his effort to tout the positive economy, he will give the impression that business needs more labor … and that he intends to help them out with that,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies. “It means that even though we are on the brink of seeing real, significant improvements in wages, they could be forestalled if employers back off their efforts to compete for U.S. workers.”

Wages rose 3.0 percent in 2018, putting Trump on track to raise voters’ wages significantly before the 2021 election. 

The tilt towards business’ cheap-labor priorities could emerge from the President’s effort to portray a sense of national unity, Vaughan said. “I’m concerned that in an effort to strike a note of unity, and to hold out an olive branch to the Democrats, that the president will overpromise on an immigration grand bargain,” she said. 

Trump’s speech will impact the congressional border security panel that is slated to develop a budget for the Department of Homeland Security by February 15, and will likely reveal some information about his views towards a pending White House proposal about immigration and the economy. Some observers also expect Trump to explain if he will start construction of a border without formal approval by Congress.

White House officials have said the speech will emphasize unity and will feature the President’s priorities on immigration reform. 

CNBC reported

According to a senior administration official, Trump will say: “Together we can break decades of political stalemates, bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.”

 The first will be Trump’s “vision for a safe and legal immigration system,” said the official, who later added that the president was going to “try and provide a bipartisan way forward on immigration.” The official declined to say whether Trump would declare a national emergency if Congress does not appear as though it will reach a bipartisan border security plan that includes wall funding.
The speech will have offer a “unifying, bipartisan and optimistic tone,” officials said.
Democrats, however, are looking for concessions from Trump. They oppose a border wall and are pushing to amnesty roughly 3 million illegals who say they arrived as children, and to get green cards for roughly 300,000 migrants who are being allowed to stay because of the Temporary Protected Status program.
Few Democrats debate the damage to Americans’ wages caused by four decades of illegal immigration.

Political consultants are urging Trump to focus on the positive. For example, Frank Luntz told the Washington Post:

For Trump, right now, this is ‘go time … This speech, on this night, is not what you are against. It is what you are for. Tell the American people what you want to do and why.

Also, GOP legislators are urging the President to back away from his dramatic threat to build a wall via his orders to agencies. According to CNN:

Congressional Republicans privately worry that Democrats would force a vote to overturn that emergency declaration, something that would likely pass the Democratic-controlled House and may clear the GOP-led Senate if just a handful of Republicans join Democrats. The issue could divide Republicans and be an ugly battle even if opponents of the wall can’t get enough votes to override a presidential veto.

The Washington Post reported:

Senate Republicans also are overwhelmingly resistant to declaring a national emergency, according to two senior GOP aides. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) privately cautioned Trump last week that doing so could divide the GOP and told the president that Congress might pass a resolution disapproving an emergency declaration.




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