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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

No holding back as Trump maintains resolve on Mexico wall 

To highlight illegal immigration the US president used the case of two murdered girls

Elizabeth Alvarado, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez, and Freddy Cuevas, the parents of two girls who were chased down and brutally murdered by gang members, cry as president Donald Trump introduces them during his State of the Union address. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Elizabeth Alvarado, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez, and Freddy Cuevas, the parents of two girls who were chased down and brutally murdered by gang members, cry as president Donald Trump introduces them during his State of the Union address. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

In a moment of perfectly conceived political rhetoric, president Donald Trump brought two sets of bereaved parents to tears by recalling the murder of their teenage daughters.

Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens were killed in September 2016 by members of MS-13, a gang comprised primarily of Latin Americans.

Immigration featured heavily in Mr Trump's state of the union address on Tuesday, speaking of the border wall with Mexico and new restrictions on how many family members will be allowed per legal immigrant.

He warned about deadly gangs, the scourge of drugs and violent immigrants living in the United States illegally.

"Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as illegal unaccompanied alien minors and wound up in Kayla and Nisa's high school," he said, referring to the dead girls.

Tugging at viewers' heartstrings, Mr Trump went on to make the case that illegal immigration and violence committed by some of those involved has not only resulted in crime but is also hurting poor Americans the most.

"For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They've allowed millions of low wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans."

He challenged congress to make good on long-standing promises to fix a fractured immigration system and warned of evil forces seeking to undermine America's way of life.

His policies, he said, focus on the best interests of American workers and families.

And he cast the debate over immigration — an issue that has long animated his most ardent supporters — as a battle between heroes and villains, leaning heavily on the personal stories of White House guests in the crowd.

"Tonight, everyone in this chamber is praying for you," Mr Trump said to the parents of Kayla and Nisa.

"Everyone in America is grieving for you and 320 million hearts are breaking for you. We cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow, but we can make sure that other families never have to endure this pain," he said.

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Read more:

Trump State of the Union address: The key points

Image of the United States has plunged under Trump, survey shows

Opinion: Building walls has become our dangerous obsession

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