Multiple reports emerged moments before Donald Trump's first address to Congress suggesting the president is eager to sign a compromise immigration bill. Trump's latest remarks could mark his first opportunity to work with Democrats and soften his controversial stance on immigration.
CNN reports that Trump met with news anchors at a White House luncheon on Tuesday where he mentioned the need for a new immigration bill.
"The time is right for an immigration bill, as long as there is compromise on both sides," Trump said.
Trump's desire to find common ground with Republicans and Democrats on immigration reform comes after a string of reports detailing several illegal immigrants being deported or detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents despite not having criminal records.
The arrest of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, a 35-year-old mother, might be the most controversial deportation under the Trump administration.
Garcia de Rayos was arrested in 2008 for criminal impersonation, a non-violent offense, and was detained and deported three weeks ago after years of court-ordered visits to her local ICE office. On the same day as her birthday, CNN reports her two teenage children attended Trump's congressional address where the president laid out his immigration and economic policy.
Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona invited Garcia de Rayos' children to Trump's congressional address as a symbol of the consequences of the president's current immigration policy.
"Their example is a bright light of hope for immigrant communities across this country who are fearful that Trump will come for them next," Grijalva said. "Their fight is all of our fight, and I am proud to stand side by side with them in opposition to these atrocious policies."
Trump hopes Congress will pass a new immigration bill that would allow undocumented immigrants with nonviolent criminal backgrounds to live in the U.S. freely. The legislation would allow Garcia de Rayos to return home to her family in the U.S.
"[Trump] is eager to pass a compromise immigration bill in his first term that would stop short of granting a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, but would allow undocumented immigrants who aren't serious or violent criminals to live, work and pay taxes in the US without fear of deportation, a senior administration official said."There's room for Trump to find common ground with both parties under a slightly softened immigration policy. The left can celebrate Trump's willingness to let law-abiding immigrants live in the U.S., while the right can find comfort in his desire to deport immigrants with criminal records. The room for negotiation could be Trump's first chance to work across the aisle on immigration policy and strike a deal with Democrats.
During his first speech to Congress, Trump pledged to bring back millions of jobs and strengthen the U.S. borders.
"By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone," Trump said.
Trump also promised to implement a merit-based immigration policy during his first term. Citing countries like Canada and Australia, Trump believes this policy will help immigrants find work and be able to support their families with better paying jobs.
"The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers," Trump said.
"I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation's security, and to restore respect for our laws."The special guests who sat with First Lady Melania Trump during Trump's speech were also symbolic for the president's plans to crack down on illegal immigrants with criminal records.
According to USA Today, Trump's guests included Jessica Davis and Susan Oliver who are the widows of two California police officers killed by an undocumented immigrant. Jamiel Shaw Sr., whose son was shot in 2008 by an undocumented immigrant and gang member, also sat with the first lady during Trump's speech.
His three guests appear to symbolize the Trump administration's plans to crack down on crime and deport any and all immigrants in the U.S. with a violent criminal history.
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