In first State of the Union address, Trump tells natural disaster victims: “We are with you”

Editor’s note: This is a developing story that will be updated with reactions from Texas’ congressional delegation.

WASHINGTON — In his first State of the Union address, President Donald Trump touted a “new tide of optimism” sweeping the country in the wake of his administration’s “righteous mission” to address immigration reform and unemployment, among other issues.  

The president wasted no time in addressing the devastating impact of natural disasters on communities around the country, including in Houston following Hurricane Harvey. 

“We have endured floods and fires and storms, but through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul and the steel in America’s spine,” Trump said early in the speech.

He praised the work of the Cajun Navy, a volunteer network of boat owners who aided in rescue efforts in Harvey’s aftermath. Trump’s guest list included Jon Bridgers, who founded the group in 2016. 

“To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, everywhere, we are with you,” Trump said. “We love you, and we always will pull through together. Always.”

Without mentioning the North American Free Trade Agreement by name, Trump vowed to renegotiate “bad” trade deals he said hurt American companies and workers. 

From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair, and very importantly, reciprocal,” Trump said. “We will work to fix bad trade deals, and negotiate new ones. And they’ll be good ones, but they’ll be fair.”

On immigration, the president pressed Congress to consider the proposal the White House released last week that includes legislation that would give legal status to roughly 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants, commonly referred to as “Dreamers.” It would include a 10- to 12-year path to citizenship “with requirements for work, education and good moral character,” according to the proposal. It also includes provisions for a $ 25 billion trust fund to bolster border security, including money to build a wall on the southern border and an end to chain migration.

In his speech Tuesday, Trump said a bipartisan solution was the only way to pass significant reform for the first time in more than 30 years. 

“This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen,” he said.

But several lawmakers could be heard jeering when the president mentioned the end to chain migration and the visa lottery system, which he said were nonsensical policies that were threats to national security. That means the road ahead is a rocky one as some Democrats have already said they’d reject the plan outright if it reached the House floor in its current form.

Julián Aguilar contributed to this report.

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