President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address Tuesday evening that the issue of immigration illustrates the differences in realities between America’s working class and its elites.
“No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards,” the president said. “Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net. ”
The president asserted that tolerance for illegal immigration is not a mark of compassion, but cruelty.
President Trump made illegal immigration a central theme in his speech, saying Republicans and Democrats “must join forces” to confront what he’s calling “an urgent national crisis.”
Trump said Congress “has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland and secure our very dangerous southern border” ahead of a February 15 deadline, before adding that lawmakers “have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”
Trump, wearing a red tie, was greeted with a round of applause from Republicans as well as some Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
The chamber is filled with his family members, Cabinet, a handful of Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and their invited guests.
Trump is expected to strike a unifying tone in his remarks, which are expected to touch on subjects including immigration, trade negotiations with China and U.S. troop deployments in the Middle East.
The speech is being delivered a week later than originally scheduled after Pelosi said Trump would not be allowed to speak in front of the House Chamber until the partial government shutdown came to an end.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.