In his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump articulated his immigration policy and announced the creation of a new government agency called Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE.
While he had previously focused mainly on immigration enforcement, Trump on Tuesday offered to reform the immigration system in a way that resembles a merit-based system in countries such as Canada and Australia.
“It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon,” Trump said.
His promise to “bring back millions of jobs” and “save billions of dollars” through immigration enforcement and border security drew quick commentary from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Under the Department of Homeland Security, VOICE would address victims of crime perpetrated by immigrants who Trump says “have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests,” the president said as he called on an audience guest whose son was “viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member.”
Trump’s remarks drew applause from Republicans and groans and boos from Democrats in the audience, and a range of reactions followed on Twitter.
Trump’s remarks on immigration enforcement and reform follow a series of orders earlier this month that sharply increased deportations from unauthorized immigrants.
In a new order Trump signed last week, the federal government expedited deportations, discouraged new asylum seekers and targeted unauthorized immigrants who may or may not have committed a serious crime, according to a memo from the Department of Homeland Security made public last week.
Trump drew criticism from people who say deportations can split up families and disrupt the lives of those who are not violent criminals. Others, however, were quick to point out that Barack Obama once earned the nickname of “Deporter-in-Chief” when his administration oversaw the deportation of 2.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States between 2009 and 2015.
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