Originally published in Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Network
March 1, 2017 (Washington D.C.) -- In his first address to Congress, President Trump spoke extensively about three issues important to California, promising to stop gang violence, secure the border with Mexico and reform immigration policy.
“We will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border…it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime,” he said during the hour-long speech.
“As we speak,” he added, “we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens.”
Trump vowed to reform the legal immigration system so that it is merit-based, and appealed to Democrats to “work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.” He said such a reform must improve wages, strengthen American security and restore respect for laws.
“The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers,” he said.
For the military, Trump announced the end of the sequester that has cut budgets, and promised “one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.”
And he recognized concerns about recent threats that have forced the evacuation of Jewish community centers in San Diego, Irvine and Los Angeles.
“Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms,” Trump said.
Though many national commentators said the speech represented a significant change in tone for the President, it quickly drew criticism from California Democrats.
“What we heard tonight was not the inspiring call to action that is needed. The president’s attempt at unifying the nation fell flat,” said Rep. Susan Davis, who represents the 53rd District. “The divisive rhetoric he has used over the past years is not going to be healed by a few words in a speech.”
Rep. Scott Peters, who represents the 52nd District, called the speech a “disappointment” from a legislative viewpoint.
“President Trump identified some issues where we might work with him, but it remains to be seen whether he can deliver,” said Peters. “It’s just hard to believe given his disorganized White House, reckless executive orders, and hyper-partisan cabinet nominations.”
But Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican, said he was “encouraged by the bold agenda” and praised the President’s immigration message.
“We need immigration policies that allow us to keep the best and the brightest from around the world,” said Issa.
Read full text of the President’s speech: http://www.thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/321699-full-speech-president-trumps-address-to-a-joint-session