President Donald Trump laid out a positive vision for America in his first State of the Union address.
His speech highlighted a nation that has grown increasingly strong over the past year, with the economy setting record after record.
African-American unemployment has reached the lowest point in recorded history, and the stock market has added over $8 trillion in value.
But the president took his message beyond the economy.
He offered the country a path forward united by the common values that bind Americans.
“In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is, ‘In God We Trust,’” Trump said in his speech.
“And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support,” he said.
Trump said that over the past year his administration had worked to “restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their Government.”
As part of this, he called on Congress to empower cabinet secretaries with the authority to reward good workers, and to remove federal workers who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.
He also talked about the role of government, which is to listen to, respect, and serve the American people.
“Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them,” Trump said in his prepared remarks.
“Americans fill the world with art and music. They push the bounds of science and discovery. And they forever remind us of what we should never forget: The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it is the people who are making America great again,” he said.
He also encouraged Americans to be proud of who they are and what they are fighting for.
“As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail,” he said.
“And our nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.”
In his address, Trump also called on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for new investments in infrastructure.
“Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit,” he said.
He also talked about the importance of lifting American citizens out of dependence into independence, and from poverty to prosperity.
“We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work. We want every child to be safe in their home at night. And we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love,” he said.
Citing the benefits of the tax cuts and tax reform signed into law last month, Trump said increased investments can now take place in workforce development and job training.
“Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential. And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave,” he said.
“As America regains its strength, this opportunity must be extended to all citizens. That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.”
The president vowed not to stop fighting on behalf of Americans.
“The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise,” he said.
Trump also spoke about the necessary reform needed to combat the opioid crisis that claimed 174 deaths per day in 2016.
“My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need. The struggle will be long and difficult—but, as Americans always do, we will prevail,” he said.
Trump’s Immigration Plan
On immigration, Trump talked about how for decades open borders allowed drugs and gangs to enter the United States.
“Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country. We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents, so that this cannot ever happen again,” he said.
He also laid out a new immigration plan. The plan offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age.
“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,” Trump said.
The plan also includes fully securing the southern border by building the promised border wall, ending the practice of “catch and release,” ending the diversity visa lottery, and ending chain migration.
“It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century,” Trump said.
Taking a Stance Around the World
Trump cited international challenges as reasons for the United States to end the defense sequester to fully fund the country’s military.
“Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values. In confronting these horrible dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means to our true and great defense,” Trump said.
Trump also called for a change to how America uses tax money to help other countries around the world.
“Last month, I also took an action endorsed unanimously by the Senate just months before: I recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Shortly afterward, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America’s sovereign right to make this recognition. American taxpayers generously send those same countries billions of dollars in aid every year.”
As a result, Trump said he is calling on Congress to pass legislation to make sure that American foreign-assistance dollars only go to friends of America, not its enemies.
Further, Trump noted that his administration has already imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.