WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – In his first State of the Union address, President Donald Trump called for unity and struck a conciliatory tone as he laid out his plan for the coming years.
“The state of our Union is strong because our people are strong,” extolled the President.
Trump touted all of the areas he sees as successes since inauguration day: job creation, stock market gains, and tax cuts. The hot-button issue, though, that could bring the government towards the brink of another shutdown in about a week – immigration.
As expected, Trump called for the construction of a southern border wall, and an end to visa lotteries and family-based immigration. In exchange, he offered a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants brought here as children – sometimes called “dreamers.”
“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,” said the President.
Trump also laid out what he believes his duty is as President of the United States.
“To protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.”
That line in particular rankled Democrats who are fighting to protect the “dreamers.”
“The President presents himself as generous toward dreamers. But he’s holding them hostage to the most extreme anti-immigrant agenda in generations,” said House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA.
Many Democrats sat in stony silence throughout most of the address and bristled when Trump equated immigration with gangs and drub violence.
“I think that was very disappointing when you always equate immigration with the worst of people,” said Senator Doug Jones, D-AL.
But not every Democrat remained seated. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin frequently rose for applause.
“Just to sit there and frown is not going to fix anything so, let’s embrace each other and try to make it work and when we disagree let’s work through that,” he said.
In their official response, Democrats, through Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy the third, told DACA Dreamers, “we will fight for you”. He then went after the divisiveness of the Trump administration’s first year.
“Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future,” said Kennedy.
A CBS News Poll found three out of four Americans who watched speech agreed with the President’s message.