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7 key points in Trump's maiden speech to Congress

March 01, 2017 12:09 IST

Here are seven key points made by US President Donald Trump during his first address to the joint session of the Congress on Wednesday:

>> Border Wall

President Donald Trump made repeated reference to the "great wall" that he had promised to build on the southern border of the US.

"We have defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross – and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate. And we’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled."

"We want all Americans to succeed -- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders. For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a Great Wall along our Southern Border. As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens.

"Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised. To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders? Our obligation is to serve, protect and defend the citizens of the United states."

>> Buy American and Hire American

Extended his support to free trade, President Trump pitched for 'Buy American and Hire American.'

"The time has come for a new programme of national rebuilding. America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling.

"With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country -- twice. And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate. To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion dollar investment in the infrastructure of the United States -- financed through both public and private capital -- creating millions of new jobs. This effort will be guided by two core principles: Buy American, and Hire American."

"I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE. The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that "The abandonment of the protective policy by the American government will produce want and ruin among our people."

>> Immigration

Trump pushed for a merit-based immigration system that could benefit high-tech professionals from countries like India.

"The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that 'The abandonment of the protective policy by the American government will produce want and ruin among our people'. Lincoln was right -- and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore. I am going to bring back millions of jobs. Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration.

"The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers. Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others -- have a merit-based immigration system. It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.

"According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America's taxpayers many billions of dollars a year. Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers' wages, and help struggling families -- including immigrant families -- enter the middle class. I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws.

>> Obamacare

President Trump urged the Congress to replace and repeal Obamacare with reforms to expand choice, increase access, lower cost and, at the same time, provide better health care.

"Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do. Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits -- as an example,

"Arizona went up 116% last year alone. Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his state -- it is unsustainable and collapsing. One third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges -- leaving many Americans with no choice at all. Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan? We now know that all of those promises have been broken. Obamacare is collapsing -- and we must act decisively to protect all Americans.

"Action is not a choice -- it is a necessity. So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.

>> Islamic State & Terrorism

The US president said the country is taking strong measure to protect the nation from radical Islamic terrorism and added that ISIS is killing people from all faiths

"Our obligation is to serve, protect and defend the citizens of the United states. We are also taking strong measures to protect our nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism.

"According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.

"We have seen the attacks at home -- from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center. We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany and all over the world. It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honour of admission to the United States, should support this country and love its people and its values. We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America -- we cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.

That is why my Administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our nation safe -- and to keep out those who would do us harm. As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS -- a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim World, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet."

>> Hate Crimes

President Trump reiterated that the country is united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.

"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.

"Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice -- in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present. That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart. A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning."

>> Foreign Policy

President Trump said his job was not to represent the world, but to represent the United States of America.

"Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American Leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe. We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism. But our partners must meet their financial obligations. And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that. We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific -- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost. We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.

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. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict -- not more. We must learn from the mistakes of the past -- we have seen the war and destruction that have raged across our world. The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding. America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align.

"We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace, wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.

IMAGE: US President Donald Trump reacts after delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/Reuters