'Americans are dreamers too': Trump calls for immigration deal to protect US citizens

    President Donald Trump arrives before the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    In his first State of the Union address, President Donald Trump called on Republicans and Democrats to work with him on an immigration deal that will put American citizens first.

    Trump outlined the four pillars of his immigration proposal which he said represents a "fair compromise" between the left and the right.

    "My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their families, their communities and their right to the American dream," Trump said. "Because Americans are 'dreamers' too."

    Trump's reference to dreamers intersects a heated fight on Capitol Hill to pass immigration legislation to provide legal protections to dreamers, immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors. The impasse over dreamers led to a short-term government shutdown, which ended after the Republican leadership promised to debate immigration in February.

    "Tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, religion, and creed," Trump said, encouraging members of Congress to "finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century."

    "Let's come together, set politics aside and finally get the job done," Trump said.

    Donald Trump outlined the "four pillars" of his immigration plan, the first of which provides a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million dreamers.

    Trump's proposal also includes measures more controversial demands that have been met with Democratic resistance. The president's plan calls for increased border security and the construction of "a great wall" along the southern border. The other two elements of the plan include limiting chain migration to only the nuclear family and ending the diversity visa lottery system in exchange for "merit-based immigration system."

    Lawmakers have until March 5 to agree on legislation to protect dreamers. The White House has repeatedly insisted that any legislation to protect dreamers must include the other three "pillars" of the president's proposal.

    In his address, Trump highlighted the dangers of illegal immigration. His guests in the House gallery included the parents of two victims of the Salvadoran street gang, MS-13, and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in charge of an operation that led to the arrest of more than 200 MS-13 gang members in Long Island.

    Trump further argued that "in the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can no longer afford," citing two terrorist attacks involving suspects that entered the country through the diversity visa lottery or chain migration.

    Donald Trump's critics have argued that the president's claims about the dangers of illegal immigration conflate all immigrants with gang members and terrorists.

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