President Donald Trump may have not veered off-script during his first State of the Union address or made disparaging remarks against certain countries and their people, but his comments on ending family reunification programs and the fact he used the tragic deaths of two young African-American girls to push his anti-immigrants stance created quite a stir.
In his address, the president brought up the atrocities committed by the MS-13 gang, claiming his administration has put “thousands and thousands and thousands” of its members in prison or on deportation flights — even though there’s no data to prove that.
The reality TV star-turned-politician invited to the SOTU the parents of two black teenagers who were murdered by members of MS-13.
“Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers: Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens. Their two teenage daughters, Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, were close friends on Long Island,” he began. “But in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa's 16th birthday, neither of them came home. These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown.”
According to reports, at least six gang members have been charged with the horrendous crime.
“Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors and wound up in Kayla and Nisa's high school,” Trump continued.
Although his words reminded the country of the unbearable tragedy those poor parents had to go through, in the same breath, he not only politicized the girls' murders but actually used their grieving families to shamelessly reiterate his anti-immigration stance.
It is also important to note that Trump’s subtle reference to DREAMers, the nearly 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, insinuated he believed all of them could be gang members.
Also, for those unaware, the MS-13 gang was born in Los Angeles in the 1980s. It was started by refugees created from Central American wars that were considerably fueled by American intervention, as The Washington Post noted last year.
“Central American civil war refugees in response to harassment by more established local gangs, they became a far more violent group in the crucible of the California prison system,” the report said.
The commander-in-chief then called on both the Republicans and the Democrats to support his new immigration reform proposal, which he dubbed a “fair compromise,” before explaining its four pillars:
1. Offering a path to citizenship for 1.8 million DREAMers who were brought to the United States at a young age.
“Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States,” Trump elaborated, trying to do some damage control after creating the whole mess in the first place.
2. Increased border security, which means building a “big, beautiful” wall on the U.S.-Mexico border hiring more immigration officers to stop immigrants from crossing the border.
“Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country — and it finally ends the dangerous practice of ‘catch and release,’” he added.
As Trump forgot to mention, border arrests have reportedly dropped sharply over the last decade.
3. Ending the visa lottery program and move toward a merit-based immigration system.
“It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country,” the president said.
4. Ending family reunification program, more commonly known as chain migration.
“Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children,” Trump continued, amid loud jeers and boos from the crowd. “This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.”
Needless to say, social media users did not waste time calling Trump out on his remarks.
Just to be clear: Trump brought out a grieving family to use as a part of a political performance meant to demonize immigrants as being inherently violent when the research clearly shows that immigrants, both documented & undocumented, commit less crime than native born Americans— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) January 31, 2018
Trump goes for the "immigrants are savage killers" gambit with a story about a killing by MS-13. Yep, we are well into the Stephen Miller portion of our evening. #SOTU— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 31, 2018
Did Trump just blame crime on undocumented immigrants who *came as children*? That's disgusting.— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) January 31, 2018
Boos when Trump mentions ending the ability of immigrants to bring family members to the U.S. (something immigrants have been able to do for generations.) #SOTU— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 31, 2018
Trump says that under his immigration plan, 1.8 million undocumented immigrants will gain citizenship if they display good moral character.— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) January 31, 2018
Will this "moral character" test include a loyalty pledge and a questionnaire about who they promise to vote for?#SOTU #StateofOurUnion
Trump’s four pillars on immigration is not a “down-the-middle compromise,” it was drafted by nativist Stephen Miller. It will go after black and brown immigrants, increase deportations, and separate families.— Cristina Jimenez (@CrisAlexJimenez) January 31, 2018
Republicans and Democrats must reject it. #SOTU #DreamActNow
How disturbing it is that Trump would use the pain of these families to try to criminalize immigrants and drive his anti-immigrant agenda.#SOTU— United We Dream (#DreamActNow: 478-488-8059) (@UNITEDWEDREAM) January 31, 2018
Trump is wrong to criminalize the immigrant community. The vast majority of the 11M undocumented immigrants have NOTHING to do with the gang MS-13. Fact: Immigrants are less likely to be criminals and to end in jail than those born in the U.S.— JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews) January 31, 2018
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters