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State Senator James Sanders, Jr.
State Senator James Sanders, Jr.

BY STATE SENATOR JAMES SANDERS, JR.

Last week, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union speech. Ever the boastful narcissist, he said it had the highest television ratings in history. Although 45.6 million people did tune in, there is definitely a lot of evidence to refute Trump’s claim.

The number of people who watched is not important, however. This was not an episode of The Apprentice. Trump should be focusing on what he chose to say to the American people, what his words meant, and what affect his plans will have on shaping the future of our country.

To be fair, Trump did spend a lot of time discussing the concept of “putting America first” and was not too concerned about our international relationships. That is worrisome, since we need to work with others in order to be successful. Trump bragged about what he considers his accomplishments during his time in office, and focused less on what he plans to do in the future. Of course, it would not be a true Trump speech, if it were not anti-Obama. Trump reveled in how much of his predecessor’s legacy he had been able to dismantle, much to the pleasure of the Republicans watching, I’m sure.

He also spoke about having a bipartisan government that works together, the left and the right, Republican and Democrat, working hand in hand, side by side – and if you believe that one, I have a bridge I would like to sell you. Even Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s face was puckered in a priceless expression of disdain during the address. I don’t think anyone watching thought Trump was being sincere. You just have to look at his track record to confirm that.

When it comes to policy there wasn’t a whole lot of new items on the agenda and what he does have planned doesn’t have me feeling too positive – keeping the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay open, increasing America’s nuclear arsenal, isolating our country from other countries that don’t agree with our views, and some vague talk about working on infrastructure.

When it comes to immigration, Trump has proven through word and deed that he only wants certain people populating America – white people. He plans to end Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA). Let’s not forget the wall he wants to build on the U.S. border with Mexico and the so-called Muslim ban or “extreme vetting.” In Trump’s State of the Union Address, he made an insensitive comment that angered many Democrats and DACA advocates.

He said: “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream — because Americans are dreamers, too.”

Trump is implying that children who were brought here from other countries and who have only known the United States as their home are somehow less American than those born on U.S. soil. It’s insulting to the many hardworking immigrants and their families who came here hoping for a better life. We should be offering these people a path to citizenship, not trying to publicly shame them.

Now that I have discussed what Trump put in his speech, let’s take a moment to look at what he left out. He conveniently failed to mention the special investigation into whether members of his campaign colluded with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election that put him in the White House. He also limited his discussion of Russia, only mentioning it along with China, as a rival that challenges “our interests, our economy, and our values.”

Even though the issues mentioned in Trump’s speech are national issues, they also impact us on a local level here in Southeast Queens. How many Dreamers live in this most diverse borough? How many people have become apathetic with Trump at the helm? And how many of those will choose not to vote or become political leaders. President Trump is doing irreparable damage to the future of this country and anyone bold enough to step forward to lead it.

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