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President Trump Addresses Joint Session of Congress, Maintains Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric, and Lacks Specifics on Legislation

March 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - In last night's speech to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump doubled down on deregulation, rolling back environmental protections, attacking public education, and victimizing immigrant communities.

While Trump started and ended his speech with a call for unity, he maintained the same unyielding anti-immigrant rhetoric that marked his campaign and reiterated his intent to build a wall along the country’s southern border.

“National unity cannot be accomplished with a President who refuses to cite the invaluable contributions that immigrants make to this country every single day,” said Roger C. Rocha Jr., LULAC National President. “We agree that we must move past our political disagreements and come together for the advancement of our country. However, the economic power that immigrants possess must not be ignored. We need to empower these communities and all hardworking Americans. Instead, Trump continues to make generalizations and irresponsible statements about immigrants, painting them as criminals taking American jobs.”

Only a few days into his presidency, Trump signed an executive order directing the deportation of any unauthorized immigrants who have committed a crime — regardless if they have been charged or convicted. This broad and general standard could impact almost any of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Additionally, he implemented a Muslim ban that barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

“Immigrants and refugees should not be seen as a threat to America,” said Rocha. “While we fully support the need to maintain national security, it is completely un-American to discriminate against our neighbors, many of which simply seek to escape unbearable hardship and achieve a better life for their loved ones.”

"Tonight's anti-immigrant proposals will not keep America safe, will not lead to increased wages and will not keep us safe," said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. "Just as he did throughout his campaign, Trump continues to drive a wedge between the American people and immigrants. Trump's speech was laden with harsh imagery that painted undocumented immigrants as violent criminals--which simply isn't true. The vast majority of immigrants are hardworking individuals who are actively working to provide for families and make this country great."

Although he touched on these issues, Trump’s address lacked specifics on his plan to improve the areas of education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

“We agree that education is the civil rights issue of our time,” said Rocha. “We must recognize how it sets the foundation for all other areas, including wages and healthcare. Americans are seeking a holistic and detailed approach on how to tackle these areas. Yet, Trump is past the halfway point of his first 100 days in office and he has yet to propose major legislation to achieve his goals.”

“We join President Trump on his call for a renewal of the American Spirit,” concluded Rocha. “But that spirit was founded by a nation of immigrants yearning to be free and pursuing the American Dream. The President’s policies need to embrace the contribution of immigrants to our country if he wants to renew the can-do attitude that has made our country great.”

Trump has consistently publicized unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and has supported aggressive laws requiring ballot box photo identification. Similarly, Sessions repeatedly sought to increase voting laws during his time as U.S. senator.

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The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.lulac.org.

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