State of the Union: Donald Trump defends immigration policy, calls for more bipartisan cooperation

United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday (Wednesday morning India time called for more bipartisan cooperation as he delivered his State of the Union address before a bitterly divided Congress, which clashed with him last month over his demand for border-wall funding, The Washington Post reported. The fight with the Congress resulted in a 35-day partial government shutdown.

Trump staunchly defended his administration’s immigration policy, spending a better part of the speech warning of the dangers of undocumented immigration. He mentioned that unchecked immigration empowers smugglers and would lead to a “flood of drugs and gangs”. “This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier – not just a simple concrete wall,” he said, adding: “Simply put, walls work and walls save lives.”

The US president signalled he would not back off his hard-line immigration policies, The New York Times reported. “No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration,” he was expected to say, according to excerpts released by the White House. “Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.”

He told the Congress that “tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate; it is cruel”.

The US president lashed out at “ridiculous partisan investigations”, an apparent reference to the inquiries being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged links between his administration and Russia. On January 25, Trump’s key ally Roger Stone was arrested in Florida and charged with lying to Congress and obstructing an investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States – and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” The Washington Post quoted Trump as saying. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way! We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.”

Second Trump-Kim Jong-un summit in Vietnam

The US president announced he would meet Kim Jong-un in Vietnam on February 27 and 28, referring to the North Korean leader as “Chairman Kim”. The White House had made the announcement last month but did not disclose the location. “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Trump said. “Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong-un is a good one.”

The two leaders met for the first time on June 12 in Singapore for a historic summit, following which Kim committed to the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula.