President Trump on Wednesday said he wants to increase the number of people who legally migrate to the U.S. “because our unemployment numbers are so low.”
Trump, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, said there is an influx of companies “coming back into our country,” and that people legally coming into the U.S. are needed to fill those positions.
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“We have seven car companies coming back in right now and there’s going to be a lot more,” Trump said. “We’ve done really well with this, and we need people.”
Trump’s remarks came after he made a surprising push for immigration during his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
“Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways,” the president said, before ad-libbing that he wants people to enter the U.S. “in the largest numbers ever.”
When asked by a reporter with Louisiana’s The Advocate newspaper if he was officially changing his immigration policy, Trump said: “I need people coming in because we need people to run the factories and plants and companies that are moving back in. We need people.”
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The Trump administration’s policy positions to date do not reflect his statement. During his address to the nation, Trump had argued that illegal immigrants take jobs away from middle-class Americans.
Trump has proposed several policies that would severely restrict legal immigration, including limiting immigrants’ ability to sponsor family members to join them. He has also slashed, for the last two years, the number of refugees the U.S. will accept.
The president was also asked Wednesday at the White House why he didn’t speak about the Parkland massacre during his State of the Union address. Three parents of students who were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, and a former student who survived the shooting, were in attendance at the event on Capitol Hill.
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Trump told WPLG he “didn’t know they were there,” adding that he wished he’d have known.
“It’s a great group of people. I could’ve put it in. I would’ve put it in, I’ve been very involved in it,” he continued. “It’s an incredible tragedy, and these are things that can be stopped.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.