Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Trump State of the Union address: The key points

President Donald Trump declared on Tuesday in his State of the Union address to Congress that what he calls America's "open borders" had allowed drug gangs to pour into US communities.

Pointing out a guest - a mother who lost two daughters to murder - Trump urged Congress to come together to "close the loopholes" that he said allow in groups like El Salvador's MS-13.

"Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes and our laws to enter the country as illegal, unaccompanied, alien minors," Trump claimed, laying out his immigration plan.

If the president wins congressional backing for his immigration plans they will include four pillars tightening what he and his populist supporters see as weak links in current law.

The first pillar, and one that might not find immediate support with the most vocal members of Trump's anti-immigrant base, is a "path to citizenship" for undocumented migrants who arrived at a young age.

The second pillar, Trump said, "fully secures the border" by building a huge wall on the Mexican frontier and hiring more immigration agents.

The third pillar would end America's Green Card lottery, and replace it with a so-called merit-based system for migrants with skills needed by US businesses.

And the fourth pillar - an idea that drew protests from Democrat lawmakers during the speech, would end "chain migration" policies that allow migrants to bring in family members.

Here are some of the other key points from the speech:

Appeal to unity

Trump - one of most divisive and controversial presidents in US history - sought to highlight things that Americans share, and appealed to the power of unity: "All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family can do anything."

Rebuilding infrastructure

Trump said the time has come to "rebuild our crumbling infrastructure," calling on Congress to draft legislation that "generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment that our country so desperately needs."

"We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land," he said.

Booming economy

Taxes have been slashed, "the stock market has smashed one record after another" and companies and jobs are coming back to America, Trump said.

"For many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are roaring back, they're coming back, they wanna be where the action is," he said.

'Unmatched power'

China and Russia are economic rivals who challenge US interests and values, and North Korean missiles "could very soon threaten our homeland," Trump said.

The solution? "Unmatched power," which he said "is the surest means to our true and great defense."

Trump also called for Congress to authorise "all necessary power" for the US to detain "terrorists" captured abroad, and for the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to be kept open.