UUSC responds to State of the Union Address

President Trump’s State of the Union address was yet another example of his factually inaccurate and divisive rhetoric. He exploited families’ tragedy to push for a ruthless, anti-family immigration policy that is rooted in a white supremacy agenda. Here are some of the areas—among many—we at UUSC see as profoundly problematic in the President’s address.

Trump showcased the parents of two teenage daughters who were brutally murdered by members of the savage gang MS-13 as an example of the dangers posed by immigrants who “took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”

Let’s be clear about something: Refugee children from Central America are fleeing violence from groups like MS-13. When Trump speaks of “closing loopholes,” he means rolling back protections like the Central American Minors refugee program, which allowed minors from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to apply for refugee status in the United States. Trump’s policies would return children who are victims of MS-13 to their persecutors. He would create thousands of more tragedies just like this one.

Trump also used this speech as an opportunity to discuss his nativist immigration agenda. Yet, before Congress negotiates anti-immigrant provisions that harm our communities, such as billions of dollars to expand the border wall, more immigration detention centers, or restrictions to diversity visas and family-based migration, it must first pass a clean Dream Act.

In laying out his immigration agenda, he threatened the visa lottery, describing it as “a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people,” recommending that, “it is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system —one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”

Trump’s immigration policy continues to rely on racist, ethno-nationalist stereotypes rather than facts. Diversity visa recipients are not only extensively vetted for criminal background checks and medical examinations, but are, on average, better educated than many U.S.-born individuals.

He went on to use the pejorative term “chain migration” in reference to family reunification that millions of U.S. citizens have used to bring their families to the United States in pursuit of the “American Dream.” Current law only allows U.S. citizens to petition for members of their immediate family to join them. The administration’s proposed cuts directly threaten the nuclear family, rather than protect it.

With this speech, the President made clear that he will continue to use his divisive rhetoric to tear families apart, make the United States a whites-only country, and wreak havoc on all who try to find refuge here. We must resist these actions at every turn.

The first step is to protect Dreamers from being deported from the only homes they’ve ever known. Please reach out to your Members of Congress today and encourage them to pass a clean Dream Act.

UUSC is determined to denounce and fight against the President’s racist agenda every day he’s in office. Speaking up against the President’s words is part of our long-held tradition to respect the dignity and worth of every human being. Thank you for joining with us.

Rachel Gore Freed
Vice President and Chief Program Officer
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee