President Trump did not talk about marijuana in the 2018 State of the Union, but he did focus, in part, on another pertinent topic in Colorado: immigration.
The president started by saying all Americans are "Dreamers," a term that usually refers to the people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
"So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties -- Democrats and Republicans -- to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans -- to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too."
He then called forcefully for a path to citizenship for Dreamers, which is not widely popular among conservatives, as he discussed the immigration plan the White House introduced last week.
He broke the plan into four parts:
- Pillar 1: A path to citizenship for people in this country illegally
- Pillar 2: The Wall
- Pillar 3: Ending a visa lottery "that randomly hands out green cards."
- Pillar 4: Limiting sponsorships to immigrants' immediate family members
FULL TEXT: State of the Union
The President's description of the dangers of illegal immigration largely focused on a relatively small yet vicious gang, MS-13, leading Democrats to say he's using the same demagogical language that launched his campaign.
In the audience, President Trump had the parents of two young women killed by MS-13 gang members.
"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. 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. Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and Nisa's murders. 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."
The president introduced the topic of his immigration plan by calling on a Homeland Security agent who goes by CJ, and said it's time to get him some "reinforcements." He concluded it by saying that addressing illegal immigration can help solve America's opioid crisis.
The 9NEWS Verify team looked into Trump's claims regarding two of the "pillars."
They found that the president's statements on the visa program ("The third pillar ends the visa lottery, a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of American people.") are not true.
They also found that claims regarding MS-13 ("We have sent thousands and thousands and thousands of MS-13 horrible people out of this country, or into our prisons.") are not quite true, either.
You can read the entire Verify team report regarding those and other claims here.
Members of Colorado's Congressional delegation reacted to the president's immigration comments.
On camera, they said:
Congressman Jared Polis (D):
He made a proposal with regard to immigration. It’s a non-starter here in the Capitol. There’s a strong, bi-partisan consensus that we need to do something and to find a way for the Dreamers that are here and have been here since kids. I invited one as my guest, Anarely. They should be able to become citizens after they earn their permanent residency. And we know that we can do that. We just have to send that bill to President Trump. He needs to sign it. … We’re not going to reduce legal immigration by 22 million. He wants to put America further in debt by building an expensive boondoggle of a wall. Happy to talk about border security measures that Democrats and Republicans can agree on, the right pathway to make sure the Dreamers who have been here since they’ve been kids can get right with the law and become permanent residents and someday citizens.
Congressman Mike Coffman (R):
At least he opened the door on immigration to talk about it. I think it’s a very important issue for these young people who came to this country illegally to have some path to permanent residency and then to citizenship based on affirmative behaviors. And I realize border security is a necessary part of the president’s compromise, and so I hope that we can come together and get that done. … I don’t think it’s going to be done in two days, but I think it’s very important to get it done. And I hope people – I’ve had the opportunity to meet with these young people in my district and families and I think if more members did, I think that they’d feel an urgency to get it done.
Senator Cory Gardner (R):
I think there has to be another continuing resolution. That’s what Sen. McConnell’s made very clear. Even if there’s an agreement reached, it’s still going to take time to draft the overall, omnibus or long-term budget proposal going forward. So, I think that’s what they’re saying, from a sheer technical standpoint they’re going to have to do that. What we have to do though is to find a bipartisan solution that the president can support to address our immigration crisis right now. When it comes to people who were brought here at a very young age, through no fault of their own, I believe there is bipartisan hope and desire to find a solution.
Others, including Mayor Hancock, reacted to the president's comments on Twitter. You can read all of the local reaction here.
9NEWS anchor Kyle Clark contributed to this report.