Immigrant advocacy groups demanded concrete and immediate action from Pres. Donald Trump following his comments on his immigration plan Tuesday during his first speech before Congress, as until now he has only managed to instill fear with his executive orders.
“I believe that a real and positive immigration reform is possible…if we are guided by the well-being of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades,” Trump said to a joint session of Congress.
An official source at the White House told EFE Services that the president thinks both Democrats and Republicans have to “soften their positions” if they want immigration reform to happen.
However, the source did not clarify whether the president is open to considering a path to citizenship or legalization for the young beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – a program started by former Pres. Barack Obama that has since protected about 750,000 undocumented immigrants from immigrations, as well as allowing them to work legally in the U.S.
Councilman Gil Cedillo told EGP that he is delighted that the Trump Administration is interested in immigration reform, but “will not [hold his] breath.”
“If this Congress was interested in passing some sort of immigration reform, it would have happened already. Much like the President’s healthcare reform idea, we have yet to see details, or an actual plan…ICE raids and intimidation tactics are not the solution,” Cedillo said in a statement emailed to EGP.
Meanwhile, the Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pledged to keep fighting in favor of immigrants and refugees in court.
“The president’s speech was void and completely divorced from the reality and damage that it has inflicted on the most vulnerable communities in the country,” ACLU said in a statement.
During the speech, Trump referenced Jamiel Shaw II, a young African-American high school student from Los Angeles High School who was murdered by an undocumented gang member in Arlington Heights in 2008. Shaw’s father, who rallied on behalf of Trump during his campaign, was a special guest on Tuesday, along with three other victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
“We must support the victims of crime,” Trump said, adding that through the creation of an office called VOICE, Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement, his administration is “providing a voice to those who have been ignored by the media, and silenced by special interests.”
“Trump continues to label immigrants as criminals, an accusation as fake as it is cruel,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.
Alfonso Aguilar, president of the conservative group Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, declared his support for finding solutions for undocumented immigrants and said in an interview on CNN, “ironically, maybe Trump is the one who can achieve this.”
In his opinion, the president has the confidence of hard-line advocates and could be able to negotiate an agreement.
EGP Staff Writer Stacey Arevalo contributed to this story.