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The Wall In Trump's State of the Union
Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert
Washington , DC
Thursday, February 07, 2019


Trump Toots "Wall" and "Barriers" in 2019 SOTU

By Peggy Sands Orchowski

President Trump delivered his second State of the Union speech last night Feb. 6 in surprising moderated tones and rhetoric. The speech brought Republicans to their feet to applaud the President's words over 100 times, by one count.   At one point, his words even caused dozens of Democratic Congresswomen dressed in all white, to dance and high-five each other in the aisle when the President lauded the fact that there was more women (over 100, nearly 25 percent) elected to Congress in 2018 than ever before in history.  

Of course the Democrats also groaned at several points (at his "If I wasn't President" comments in particular).  And many times, Republicans rose to cheer as Democrats sat silently on their hands -- particularly when Trump urged Congress to pass legislation to end late-term abortions.

But no one in the audience left in a huff either. There were no staged walk-outs as had been suggested. Even in the press gallery, where I sat in the front row over the Speaker's and President's podium, no one wanted to leave when the Director announced it was time to go to Statuary Hall for interviews with Congressional members about to exit at the end of the speech. Maybe members of the press were worried they would miss the fireworks that hadn't happened yet, but still hoped they would. Or maybe they really just wanted to hear Trump voice the soaring conclusion of the speech that we could read ahead of time in the hand-out.

To some it seemed as if almost half of the speech was about immigration and "the wall".  But in fact, the President only devoted some 12 paragraphs to the hot much-anticipated controversial subject out of a speech that lasted about 86 minutes.  

And he never mentioned DACA DREAMERS at all.

He approached the subject by saying "My administration has sent to the Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border"  (the word "crisis" of course raised hackles among some Democrats who deny there is any crisis at all).

The proposalTrump said, includes "Plans for a new physical barrier or wall to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry."   NOTE:  he said" barrier" or "wall".

"Most of the people in this room voted for a wall – but the proper wall never got built.  I'll get it built", the President said.  "This is a smart strategic see-through steel barrier not just a simple concrete wall. It will be deployed in the areas identified  by border agents as having the greatest need".

"Walls work," he concluded, citing El Paso Texas as "one of our safest cities with a powerful barrier in place".

"The president paved a very scary and unfair picture of our border," the fourth term Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), whose twin brother Julio is running for President, said after the speech.  "Trump said El Paso is safe now after the wall was built, but it was safe before."

Many Democrats did stand to applaud when President Trump lauded ICE agents and "Angel" families of loved-ones murdered by MS13 gangs and illegal immigrants who were guests of First Lady Melania Trump in the Congressional guest gallery.  But they groaned loudly when Trump declared: "Large organized caravans are on the march to the United States."  

And Democrats were silent as Republicans applauded and some yelled "yes!" when the President said "Now is the time to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration.  This is a moral issue. … We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens and millions of immigrants living here today who followed the rules and respected out laws".

A surprising concluding statement on immigraton brought widespread applause from both sides of the chamber when the President said: "Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways, I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally".

For the past two weeks, a bipartisan bicameral Congressional committee has been meeting to work out a compromise bill that will fund the government and include some funding for a border wall as well as enhanced border security.  A decision is expected on Friday Feb. 8.  That would end any threat of a shut-down for this budget cycle.  

In the President's SOTU speech and reaction to it, there appear to be some core areas of agreement that could lead to such a compromise.

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“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been”. Vice President of the Brookings Institution Darrell West wrote in recommending Peggy Sands Orchowski’s books   "The Law That Changed The Face of America: The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965" and  "Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 and 2008 respectively).  Peggy is a credentialed Senior Congressional journalist in Washington DC. She is available for interviews, article assignments and speaking engagements about immigration   porchowski@hotmail.com

Peggy Sands Orchowski
Senior Congressional Correspondent
Washington, DC
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