WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump Wednesday made yet another strong pitch for merit-based immigration in his annual State of the Union address, saying legal immigrants enrich the US in countless ways, raising hopes of hundreds of thousands of Indian IT professionals who are the worst sufferers of the current per country quota system.
Indian-Americans, most of whom are highly skilled and came to the US mainly on H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of green cards or permanent legal residency.
In his second State of the Union (SOTU) address, President Trump said: “We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens”.
According to experts, the decades-old diversity lottery visa system gave green cards to people from countries from where people would normally not qualify to come to the US through a merit-based system.
Trump has also called for ending the chain migration, the fastest and easiest way to gain legal entry into America, through sponsorship by a family member who is already a legal resident or citizen of the US.
The current wait period for Indian skilled immigrants for green card can be as long as 70 years, according to official reports. Having a Green Card allows a person to live and work permanently in the US.
The SOTU address is a traditional annual speech of the US president to a joint session of Congress where he gives an account of the situation in the country.
The lawless state of the southern Mexico border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans, Trump said.
He said his administration has sent to Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on the southern border.
“It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry.
“In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall — but the proper wall never got built. I’ll get it built,” Trump vowed.
This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall, he said.
“It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down.
“Simply put, walls work and walls save lives. So let’s work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe,” said the US President.
Asking the Congress to defend the very dangerous southern border, Trump said no issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration.
He said that wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards. Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net, he said.
“Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country,” he said.
Urging Republicans and Democrats to join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis, Trump said the US Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund the government, protect homeland and secure the southern border.
“Now is the time for Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers and human traffickers out of business,” he said, adding that large, organised caravans are on the march to the United States.
“We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection. I have ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare for the tremendous onslaught,” he said.
This is a moral issue, Trump asserted and indicated that he will not back down from the issue which he believes is necessary for the safety and security of the country.
Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between the ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery, he alleged.
Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross the US border and flood into cities — including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, Trump added. (PTI)