US President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address had positive moments. In his 80-minute US prime-time address, President Trump laid out a four-pillar immigration plan, one of the major debates that loomed over his first year in office, and sought the backing of the Congress for a merit-based immigration system that admits skilled people, a proposal that could benefit technology professionals from countries like India.
Trump warned that “rivals” like China and Russia were challenging America’s interests, economy and values, as he tried to sell his ‘America First’ agenda and key immigration reforms in his address to a deeply divided nation.
“The highlights were the positive moments with regard to the heroes and the balconies. They were moving stories. I think everyone felt good about those people but for an-hour-and-a-half speech it was surprisingly short on substance,” Democratic Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said.
The first-time Congressman from Illinois has been a harsh critic of the President. But immediately after Trump’s address to the joint session of Congress, Krishnamoorthi was not that tough on Trump.
“I think some of the tone was good. But he hasn’t governed that way. And so, there’s a jarring juxtaposition to the way he sometimes talks and the way he governed. I wish President Trump governed with the same tone of promise and cooperation that he used at times during his speech.
“If only the first year of his presidency had focused on infrastructure, investments in workforce development, and career and technical education, what a different political moment we would all be living in today,” the New Delhi-born Indian-American Congressman said.
Krishnamoorthi serves on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and on Committee on Education and the Workforce. In addition, he serves as the ranking member, and top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules.
“I do not think, anybody, Democrat is going to support a USD 25 billion border wall. I just do not see that happening. But if we were to talk about some kind of package of border enhancements, border security incidents making sure that we have a system of sensors and other devices to make sure that there’s more secure, I think that’s something that people can live with,” he said, slamming Trump’s remarks on chain visa.
“Some of the rhetoric was a little harsh at times… when you use that kind of rhetoric then it really makes it harder to come together and drive people apart. I don’t think that’s the way we should be going forward,” Krishnamoorthi said.
He praised Trump on his vocational education proposal.
Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents the Silicon Valley, said the platitudes and promises of the president’s address were as underwhelming as his first year’s accomplishments for working families and the middle class.
“Americans deserve a thorough blueprint and real, effective leadership for the year ahead to support greater economic prosperity and equality for all. Instead, tonight was just another stump speech of broken promises we’ve heard before. What we need is action and a plan for our nation’s well-being, from job creation to healthcare, to education and climate change,” Khanna said.
Trump’s speech, he said, ignored the concerns of millions who opposed the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality. Big telecom companies should not be permitted to slow down their competitors and charge consumers more. Everyone should have equal access to the internet.
“Absent in his remarks was a comprehensive approach to common sense, gun safety and combating violence and bigotry in our divided nation. Trump talked about immigration. His perception is flawed. Real lives are at stake, and I will not stop fighting for the 800,000 ‘Dreamers’ who deserve nothing less than a clean Dream Act,” Khanna said.
Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapala, who boycotted State of the Union address, slammed Trump for his alleged divisive remarks.
“Trump has sown the seeds of division during his entire presidency. This speech, while calling for unity, in the next breath propagated the same divisive stereotypes that pit neighbour against neighbour, brother against brother and sister against sister,” she said.
Trump, she alleged, created the crisis of the ‘Dreamers’ and is now holding ‘Dreamers’ hostage to build a wall that American taxpayers will fund.
“He is cruelly trying to end our family-based immigration system and diversity lottery system. He proposes protecting 1.8 million Dreamers in exchange for cutting legal immigration in half and not allowing US citizens and permanent residents to bring their parents or adult children into the country.
“And he continued to scapegoat and stereotype immigrants, making it seem as if immigrants are all gang members. This is not a real proposal and Trump is not interested in being an honest negotiator,” Jayapal added.