Experts analyze President Trump’s first State of the Union

President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, with an emphasis on issues dealing with immigration, infrastructure and drug reform.

Trump’s points on immigration –  a plan he termed the four pillars – left most Democrats unimpressed.

“It was framed as ‘immigration is a threat to America,'” says Arizona State University Law Professor Angela Banks. “It’s a threat to public safety. It’s a threat for terrorism. It’s a threat for jobs. It’s a threat because of drugs and gangs. It was framed as this is a problem hat you need tougher enforcement to deal with.”

Chuck Coughlin, president of HighGround, agrees, saying immigration will be an issue that will be played out over the next 10 days until it’s time to decide on a budget. The general thought process when it comes to trying to develop a bipartisan immigration plan, something that has been going on since 2009, is “give me border security, I’ll give you immigration reform,” Coughlin says.

“There is nothing down he middle about the four pillars,” says Banks, adding that Trump’s pillars are designed to move the country toward what he calls a “merit-based immigration system.”

Trump’s Four-Pillar Immigration Plan

  • The first pillar is a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals who came over at a young age. He says as long as they meet education and work requirements and show good moral character, they will be granted citizenship. However, the process may take up to a decade to complete.
  • The second pillar is dedicated to securing the border. This includes a $25 billion wall along the American and Mexican border. Along with the wall, Trump plans to hire more border patrol agents.
  • The third pillar will put an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery, a program designed to bring immigrants from countries underrepresented in the United States. Trump plans to replace it with a merit-based system that will provide green cards to those who demonstrate skill. However, the current lottery program already requires applicants to have two years of experience in a skill or trade, so it is unclear how the new program will differ from the current lottery.
  • The final pillar will end “chain migration,” also known as “family-based migration.” Trump says this will protect the nuclear family by preventing migrants from bringing over their families. The plan will focus on just bringing over spouses and minor children.

This plan will help fill the country with people who will make America great again, according to Trump. Coughlin believes “we have very different understandings on who the people are who are making America great.”

Sponsor message:

In this segment:

Angela Banks: Law Professor, Arizona State University
Chuck Coughlin: President and CEO, HighGround

Sponsor message:

Sign up to receive the Arizona PBS Insider

Get up-to-the-minute information about your favorite programs and learn more about Arizona PBS news and events.

'The Future of America's Past' finds history alive and present

Historian Ed Ayers takes viewers to the sites of complex and evocative chapters in American history, where new stories are being written — one tour, one museum, one play, one protest at a time.

'Great Performances at the Met' returns to Sundays at 9 a.m.

"Great Performances at the Met" brings the best of the Metropolitan Opera into the homes of classical music fans across the United States.

'Great Performances: Now Hear This' takes a musical journey across Europe

Great Performances: Now Hear This

Join violinist Scott Yoo for "Great Performances: Now Hear This," on Fridays at 8 p.m. The 4-part miniseries merges music, storytelling, travel and culture, as he chases the secret histories of some of the greatest music ever written.