“Less than one year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the American People and to address their concerns, their hopes and their dreams. That night, our new Administration had already taken swift action. A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land.” President Donald Trump opened his first State of the Union address outlining his years of accomplishments and plans for the future.
On Tuesday, Jan. 30, Trump followed the example of many of the presidents before him by acknowledging individual Americans heroes. Although this is common presidential practice during the address, Trump took it a step forward by personally praising a total of 23 individuals for their commitment to making America better and deflecting the threats American values face on a global scale.
His opening remarks highlighted the series of natural disasters that have plagued the U.S. in recent months and the rescuers who sought to minimize the damage. To the victims still recovering from these natural disasters in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and California, Trump called upon the community of Americans by saying, “We are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together.”
The majority of Trump’s address outlined the accomplishments of his administration in the past year. He praised many specific achievements such as the millions of new jobs, lowered unemployment rate, large tax cuts, the elimination of Obamacare, defense of the Second Amendment and religious liberties, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the fight against ISIS, the improvement of Detroit and several others.
Although Trump commented little on issues of international security, he specifically outlines the threats of illegal immigration and North Korea. For the other global threats, Trump simply said: “Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values.” He went on to introduce the parents and siblings of Otto Warmbier, a college student at the University of Virginia who was arrested and charged with crimes against the state during a tour of North Korea on his semester abroad. He returned to the U.S. “horribly injured and on the verge of death.” He passed away soon after his arrival home.
As for immigration reform, Trump outlined four pillars that he claimed he hopes would bridge party divides. First, he plans to “generously” institute a plan for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age. He went on to explain that individuals will be granted citizenship as long as they meet “the education and work requirements, and show good moral character.” He made sure to note that the 1.8 million people exceeds that of the Obama administration’s DACA program. Secondly, Trump ensured that his promise of a wall would soon be seen through in order to increase border security. Third, Trump plans to decrease the visa lottery, which hands out green cards without recognition of “skill, merit or the safety of our people.” Lastly, he plans to create laws that only allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens to enter the country via chain migration. Through this plan, Trump plans to see crime rates and opioid usage rapidly decrease throughout the U.S.
Although much of his address acknowledged his pride in the past year, Trump highlighted several areas for improvement, including improved infrastructure, vocational schools, aid and inmate rehabilitation. His rhetoric called for bipartisanship and unity throughout the nation and congress. He concluded his speech with, “As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail.”