President Donald Trump shocked everyone Tuesday with his speech -- but not for the reasons you might think.
Despite a very rocky first few weeks in office, Trump delivered an optimistic message to lawmakers at a Joint Session of Congress. “There were no campaign-like riffs, no boasting of his electoral victory, no bashing of the media or taunts or jeers at his opponents,” as NPR noted.
“From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears, inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past, and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts," Trump said in his a speech that was pretty faithful to the prepared script.
"I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades," Trump also said, making a clear appeal for bipartisanship.
Although Trump stayed on script, there were some notable moments in his speech. We covered the most emotional moment of Trump’s speech, a tribute to fallen Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens. But there were some other highlights from his speech, including his tone on immigration, misleading statements he made, and an unexpected quote at the end.
The Beginning of His Speech
Trump surprised many people by beginning his address with an acknowledgement of Black History Month, threats against Jewish Community Centers, and the Kansas shooting being investigated as a hate crime.
“Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation's path toward civil rights and the work that still remains,” Trump said. “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 been criticised for its handling of racial and religious prejudice in the country. The Kansas City Star published an editorial Monday criticising Trump for not speaking on the shooting that left one Indian man dead and two other men hospitalised. He also came under fire failing to speak out against anti-Semitism despite having several opportunities to do so. Additionally, the president was slammed on the campaign trail for telling black voters to support him because: “What do you have to lose?"
His Tone on Immigration
Trump once again called for the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. During his address, he called for the targeting of people living in the U.S. illegally who "threaten our communities and prey on our citizens." He also announced a new office called “VOICE” to highlight the “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement,” even though research shows immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than people born in the US, according to The Atlantic.
This tone was different than the one he expressed earlier in the day with journalists. The New York Times reported that Trump told news anchors he is open to undocumented immigrants gaining legal status who haven’t committed serious crimes.
"The time is right for an immigration bill if both sides are willing to compromise,” Trump said. It was a surprising change of pace coming from the man who pledged to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and issued executive actions during his first week in office calling for “detention of aliens apprehended for violations of immigration law.”
Although Trump stuck to the script for the most part, some of his statements were misleading. For instance, he claimed: "Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force,” which may give people the wrong idea. This number from Bureau of Labor Statistics data includes all people over 16 years old who are not working, ABC News reported. That means the figure includes a lot of people not looking for work, like people in college or who are retired. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the “number of unemployed persons” in America is at 7.6 million people.
Trump said during his speech that "by finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone." However, these claims are just claims. In fact, according to a report released by the National Academies of Sciences, there are benefits of immigration, “including on economic growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship — with little to no negative effects on the overall wages or employment of native-born workers in the long term.”
Trump also said “the murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.” Trump has made this false claim numerous times. The Associated Press reports that “the murder rate in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available, is actually among the lowest in half a century. It stood at 4.9 murders per 100,000 people, a far cry from the rates in the 1970s, 1980s and most of the 1990s, when they were typically over 6 per 100,000, peaking at over 10 in 1980.”
The Fighting Quote
Near the end of his speech, the president said this surprising statement: “The time for trivial fights is behind us. ”
Twitter users didn’t disappoint with their commentary, noting the irony of the statement.