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President Trump Pushes Nationalism in First Address to Congress

AP

President Donald Trump tonight delivered his first speech to Congress that was rich in nationalistic themes — going so far as to state that he’s not the leader of the free world.

“Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people — and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.”

He also stated, "A new national pride is sweeping across our nation," and used the word "national" six times in his speech. The only mention of the world "global" was this: "We've financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land."

President Trump addressed Congress in a room packed full of lawmakers — with dozens of women wearing white, a nod to the suffragette movement that’s gained new symbolism in the last year.

In his remarks, which lasted just over an hour, the president covered an array of topics, including immigration, refugees, education, and healthcare. Here is what Global Citizens should know.

Immigration

Despite it being reported hours earlier that Trump was considering letting undocumented immigrants find a path to citizenship, the president did not make this promise in his speech. In fact, the president bragged about his aggressive deportation tactics happening “as I speak,” saying “bad ones are going out … as I have promised.” He then said that by “enforcing our immigration laws,” “we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone.”

He then advocated for a merit-based immigration policy where “that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”

Refugees

When Trump signed an executive order banning all refugees from entering the US earlier in February, it sparked protests around the world. Without saying the word “refugees,” in his address tonight Trump did not say the US would be a place welcoming people displaced by conflict, and instead said it was the US’ job to help rebuild those countries.

“We have seen the war and destruction that have ravaged and raged across our world. The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters in many cases is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding.”

Read More: A Republican Senator Just Called Trump's Budget Proposal 'Dead on Arrival'

Anti-Semitism and Hate Crimes

“Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week's shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

Trump has remained silent on the shootings of three men in Kansas, two of whom were from India and in the US on legal work visas. The suspect reportedly yelled “Get out of my country” before pulling his gun. Tonight Trump addressed that attack as well as a rise on anti-semitism events around the US.

Violence by Immigrants

Not only did Trump reiterate his plans to keep deporting undocumented immigrants, but he also said he was forming a department in the Department of Homeland Security that would target immigrants who commit crimes.

“I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims. The office is called VOICE – Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.”

Read More: Trump Proposes Cuts to Foreign Aid & EPA to Spend More on Military

On the Pipeline Projects

“We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I've issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.”

The contentious Dakota Access Pipeline project — the pipe will run through sacred Native American lands and put water supplies at risk — was protested by people across the country. President Obama had ordered the project to review alternate routes, but President Trump signed an executive order putting the project back in action.

Supporting Women

Trump mentioned a few programs that could offer more support to women.

“With the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a Council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets, and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.”

“My administration wants to work with members in both parties to make child-care accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents have paid family leave, to invest in women's health…”

Gutting Funding of Public Schools

Calling “education is the civil rights issue of our time,” Trump called on Congress to pass a bill that funds “school choice,” which is another way of saying he wants to take money out of public-funded schools and instead, give families vouchers to use toward private, charter, magnet, religious or home schools.

While he said this would benefit the “disadvantaged youth,” including African-American and Latino children, even though it’s not proven that vouchers actually help minority students.

Healthcare

Trump again called on the Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, with a plan that “expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better healthcare.” Let’s hope Congress can do that, so that the millions of people who voted for Trump but are at risk of losing their healthcare with the repeal of the ACA can stay insured.