Thu, Feb 01, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Trump makes appeal for unity in State of the Union

LOOKING INWARD:In an appeal to his base, Trump again equated immigrants with crime and economic tension, as Democrats decked in black and butterflies hissed


North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho is acknowledged on Tuesday during the State of the Union address in the US Congress in Washington.

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday appealed for national unity and strong borders in his first State of the Union address, calling for “one American family.”

Delivering his biggest speech of the year, the most polarizing of US presidents sought to put the spotlight on a robust economy, while pointedly calling on a packed joint session of the US Congress to enact tough curbs on immigration.

“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” he said.

Trump’s opening tone was uncharacteristically conciliatory, although it bridged no compromise on his drive to reduce immigration — which he painted as responsible for a plethora of social ills.

He touched on a range of foreign policy issues — including offering the spotlight to North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho, who waved his crutches in the air as he received a prolonged standing ovation.

Trump said that Pyongyang’s “reckless” nuclear drive could “very soon” threaten the US, while also eyeing the geopolitical challenge posed by China and Russia.

However, Trump’s State of the Union was overwhelmingly focused on domestic concerns.

Among those looking on were dozens of cross-armed Democratic lawmakers, some decked in black to honor the victims of sexual harassment and others wearing butterfly stickers in support of immigrants.

Seeking to enliven his base, Trump spoke at length on the need for immigration reform, drawing hisses from the opposition as he equated immigrants with criminality and economic tension.

For decades, “open borders” had allowed “drugs and gangs to pour into” the US, Trump said.

“They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives,” he said.

Trump touted a long bull run on Wall Street and improving growth rates, something the White House has dubbed a “Trump bump.”

“The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining US$8 trillion in value,” he said, even though it suffered a setback on Tuesday, when stocks posted their biggest drop in eight months.

There was also a partisan-tinged focus on terror, with Trump vowing to keep Guantanamo Bay open.

The CNN poll of people who watched the speech found that 48 percent said they had a “very positive” impression of it.

Trump’s number was the lowest since CNN first started conducting the poll in 1998, it added.

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