In his first State of the Union address, US President Donald Trump outlined his immigration reform plan, declared a victory over the “Islamic State,” and announced he would keep Guantanamo Bay prison open.
US President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night in a talk that lasted approximately an hour and 21 minutes.
In the wide-ranging speech, Trump called for a renewal of the US nuclear arsenal, named China and Russia as countries “that challenge American values,” and called for the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay. His speech extolled the successes of his tenure and largely avoided its setbacks of the past year.
“Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew – that no people on Earth are so fearless or daring or determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it,” he said.
His fellow Republican Party members, who control both the Senate and the House of Representatives, gave him several standing ovations throughout his speech, as the opposition Democratic party greeted many of his calls to Congress with silence.
Trump often pointed to the Democratic members throughout his speech in a bid to rouse their applause too — while discussing experimental medicinal drugs, infrastructure, paid family leave for workers, and immigration reform.
Trump spent the bulk of his speech addressing domestic topics, the most prominent of which centered around US immigration reform. Trump called for a “four-pillared” plan: “generously” offering a path to citizenship for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, securing the border with “our great wall,” ending the visa lottery system and ending chain migration. He added that “Americans are dreamers too” — referring to the “dreamers” nickname of DACA recipients.
After pulling the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and threatening to leave the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 2017, Trump claimed that “the era of economic surrender is totally over. From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair. And very importantly, reciprocal.”
Trump said American needs to modernize and rebuild its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent, “hoping never to use it.” He named China and Russia as countries “that challenge American values.”
Trump used his speech to declare a victory over the Islamic State, saying that a coalition has “liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria.” However, he was sure to add that America will continue its “fight until ISIS is defeated.”
Trump announced that he has signed an executive order to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open, saying America needed to “continue to have all necessary powers to detain terrorists wherever we chase them down.”
Trump lauded recent protests occurring in Iran against “a corrupt dictatorship,” adding that “America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.” He also called on Congress to address the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump once again recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, condemning the UN for voting against “America’s sovereign right to make this decision.” He also called on the congressional lawmakers to end aid to countries, saying support should go “to friends of America, not enemies of America.”
As expected, Trump addressed the “cruel dictatorship of North Korea,” without mentioning the country’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, by name. The American president insisted he would “not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this very dangerous position,” and that “we need only to look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and its allies.”
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi both criticized Trump’s “self-congratulatory” speech, both saying the American president increased division in Tweets following the address.
Massachusetts Democrat Joe Kennedy III, the grandnephew of John F. Kennedy, the 35th American president, provided the “official” democratic response in a brief televised address from his home state of Massachusetts. After addressing the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movement, the American wage gap and LGBT rights, the 37-year-old representative got a rise from his audience when he addressed the “dreamers” by speaking in Spanish and promising that Democrats will support them.
“You are part of our story,” Kennedy III said after his short Spanish monologue. “We will fight for you and we will not walk away.”