11:46 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Our Cabinet meeting. And we’ll start with a prayer, please. Rick Perry.
SECRETARY PERRY: Yes, sir. Mr. President, thank you. Just as a — to put this all in perspective: On the 4th of July, I had a prayer that came true, which is a good thing — to pray and for the good Lord to agree that your prayer is a good one.
So Griffin James Perry came into the world on the 4th of July, at about 8:10 in the morning. So I have a grandson.
THE PRESIDENT: Good.
SECRETARY PERRY: And we had prayed about that for many years. And I think the reminder for all of us is that prayer is an incredible and powerful thing. It’s a great tonic. And as we interact with each other, to keep all of us — our friends, our families, this country — in our prayers.
Every Wednesday morning, there’s a Cabinet member Bible study, and it’s been one of the great privileges for me, in this administration, to pray with the Cabinet members. So this is an extension of that.
So if you would bow your heads and join with me in asking the Lord to continue to bless this country:
Father, thank you for this table of men and women, of individuals who selflessly serve this country. And, Lord, we ask you to continue to give them courage, to give them wisdom, to be with this President as he deals with the challenges of the day; to continue to comfort him in the knowledge that you are in charge and in control.
We thank you for your blessings both in the personal way and the larger issues of this world that we live in, that we’ve been given the privilege to serve. We ask you to continue to keep our young men and women who defend our freedom safe and to bring them home soon.
And, Father, we ask you again to keep this President safe and to give him wisdom.
In your most holy name, we pray. Amen.
THE PRESIDENT: That was very good. Thank you very much, Rick. Well done. Well done.
Thank you all for being here in the Cabinet meeting. We have them quite often, and they really produce results. We’re producing results I don’t think any administration ever, in two and a half years — the first two and a half years certainly — has produced the results that we’ve produced. We have the strongest stock market in the history of our country. By the way, just in walking in, we just set a new record. Just went up today. We had — a new record was set. The Dow Jones went over 27,000 for the first time ever. It went over 26,000 for the first time ever, and 25,000 for the first time ever. So, we’ve set it. I think we’re over 100 since election. We’re over 100 times that we’ve set a new stock market record. And, to me, that’s not just a record; that means jobs. It’s all about jobs. It’s jobs for this country.
We’re bringing in many, many countries. They’re coming in. They’re coming in at a level that we haven’t seen for decades. Car companies are coming in — Japanese car companies, in particular. Although, Germany called to say that they’re going to be announcing some very big movement with respect to a certain company that I’ve demanded has to come, because they sell us a lot of cars but they make them in other places. We want them making them in the United States.
But Japan has 12 different companies building plants in Michigan, in Ohio, in North Carolina, in Pennsylvania. One is going to be announced in Florida. We are doing things that nobody thought were possible. I wouldn’t have even said them, frankly, during the campaign because nobody would’ve been able to believe them. Nobody would’ve believed them.
Our unemployment numbers are historic, in the sense that we’ve never had better numbers. African American have the best numbers in the history of our country. Hispanic American — the best unemployment numbers in the history of our country. Women — 75 years. Asian Americans — best in the history of our country. We have the best overall unemployment, the best in 51 years. And, very soon, that will be historic — meaning the history of our country — if we keep going the way we’re going, and it should be fairly soon.
So things are happening that we wouldn’t have believed happening, or could happen.
The border: We’re working very hard, with everybody — the Attorney General. We’re doing everything we can do without getting Congress to act because the Democrats refuse to act. They refuse to do what they have to do and what they should do, and that’s loopholes. We have loopholes that are so bad, you could drive a truck through them. They could be solved in 15 minutes; would have those loopholes taken care. Literally — everyone knows what they are; they’re very simple. You know what they are. You know what they are better than the people in Congress.
But the Democrats, we need their votes. Not that we need them; we need their votes — because we have a very, very small margins both ways. The Senate is 53-47. The House is very tight. It’s a very tight House, too. Very small number. We need Democrat votes to get up to what we need. That’s why we didn’t do it last time — first two years — because we only had — we needed 9 to 10 Democrat votes, and we were never able to get them for certain things. But we were — but wherever we could use the majority, we ended doing a fantastic job, including two Supreme Court judges. We got two Supreme Court justices put on, and many other things.
But we need Democrat votes to get the border fully secured, fully taken care of. We’re getting close. Mexico has been fantastic. We had a meeting with Mexico. For 45 years, people have been trying to get Mexico to do what they’re doing now, and they weren’t able to get it. And we got it in one day — everything. Mexico now has approximately 21,000 soldiers on their land. They have very powerful immigration laws. They can do what they have to do.
We have the worst laws in the entire world. There’s no law like this, where we catch them and release them. We catch them and we say, “Come back to court in five years.” And nobody comes back. Two percent, to be accurate. I want to be accurate because I don’t want the press to say I was inaccurate. Two percent come back. And those people, we wonder why — why they’re coming back. They’re the only ones. So we can straighten that out.
We are getting rid of thousands of people who are criminals. We’re taking them out of the country — MS-13 — by the thousands. And they’re going out quickly. We do it very professionally. We have papers on everybody we take out. All documented, all very legal. They come in illegally and they go out legally. So we’ve done a job.
On Sunday, there was a lot of activity, but you didn’t even see it because it went very smoothly. The ICE folks and the people from Border Patrol, the job they do, is — they’re heroes in so many ways. We have Border Patrol, though, being nurses and doctors and janitors.
And I very much want to thank Vice President Pence for taking a whole delegation of people down to see the things that one of our very radical-left Democrats call “concentration camps.” They’re not concentration camps. They’re really well run. They’re very crowded, in many cases. Actually, in the case of the children, they weren’t crowded at all. People came back and they — even some of the news — which is shocking, frankly — said they were very well run, very clean, very nice for the children.
We had an adult center of males. Many of these people were criminals. We’re not letting them out. We can’t let them out. And it was crowded; very crowded. And the best way they can solve that is don’t come up. If you don’t come up, you’re not going to be crowded. We want to take people in legally, and we want to take them in, frankly, through merit. We want our companies to be helped. All these companies that are pouring into the United States because we’re the hottest country in the world right now. Every time I meet a leader — a president, a prime minister, a king, a queen — they all say, “Thank you, and nice to meet you. It’s wonderful. By the way, congratulations on your economy. What you’ve done is incredible.”
You read yesterday where China is down very substantially. They’re having the worst year they’ve had in 27 years. I don’t want to have them have bad years. But we made a deal and they broke the deal on me. The deal was done. It was practically done. It was just like a very short period of time, we would’ve had it finished. And they broke the deal. They decided they didn’t want to do the things that they had agreed to. So I said, “That’s all right.” We put tariffs on. Twenty-five percent on $250 billion. It’s obviously having a very negative — I don’t want it to have a negative impact. Not having any impact on us other than positive, because China devalues their currency, and they’re pumping money into their system. Our people aren’t paying for that. There’s been no inflation. There’s been no nothing. Frankly, if we ever got interest rates down where they should be, and if they weren’t raised so fast, you would see another, probably, 10,000 points on the Dow. We’re setting records.
I don’t want to act like — it’s like somebody gets a 99 on a test and they’re complaining. I don’t like that. But I’m going to complain — (laughter) — because, frankly, we would’ve done even better had we had a Federal Reserve that didn’t raise interest rates so quickly. And had we had a Federal Reserve — and there are many people on the Federal Reserve. You know, we have votes. It’s called votes.
But if we had a Federal Reserve that didn’t do quantitative tightening — they did quantitative tightening — $50 billion a month. That’s a lot of money. Now they’re doing $25 billion a month. Whereas, in Europe, they are pumping money into their system and they’re lowering rates. In China, they are pumping money into their system and they’re lowering rates very substantially. In Europe, the rates almost zero. And, in China, the rates are whatever President Xi wants. He’s his own Fed. He’s the Federal Reserve. He’s — one man. He’s the Federal Reserve. He’s the President. He’s everything else.
But, unfortunately, what they did was not appropriate. They are supposed to be buying farm products. Let’s see whether or not they do — our ag, our great farmers. But out of the tariffs, I took $16 billion to make up for the shortfall. I went to Secretary Sonny Perdue. He’s a fantastic gentleman. By the way, is he here?
DEPUTY SECRETARY CENSKY: He’s in California today.
THE PRESIDENT: What happened? He’s working on — he’s working with the farmers. They have a big meeting in California. Good. I’m glad he’s there. He can do more help there. He’s done a fantastic job.
I said, “What was the amount at its highest that China pumped into the farmers in the form of purchase?” “Sixteen billion dollars.” I said, “That’s all right, we’re taking in many, many times that in tariffs. We’re going to help the farmers out.” And I did that with $16 billion. It cost us nothing. Same thing as if they bought. And yet, the farmers don’t even want that. They really just want to make the product and sell it. But it was just a small percentage of the tariffs that we’re taking in.
And we have a long way to go as far as tariffs, where China is concerned, if we want. We have another $325 billion that we can put a tariff on if we want.
So we’re talking to China about a deal. But I wish they didn’t break the deal that we had. We had a deal where China opened up. We had a deal where there’d be — intellectual property theft would be taken care of because it’s estimated that they steal $300 billion worth of intellectual property a deal. Who knows. Who knows. That’s what they tell me. Three hundred billion. That’s a big number. How they get to that number, I’ll accept it — they’re experts. That’s what they do. But that’s a big number.
You add that to the fact that, during the Obama administration, $500 billion a year was being lost to China. Five hundred billion. They did nothing. And, in all fairness, whether you go back to Bush, you go back to Clinton — you can go back a long way — the WTO. Once the World Trade Organization was formed, China became like a rocket ship.
But now we’re doing something about it. Now we’re doing something about it. And — we’re doing a lot about it. We picked up close to $20 trillion in wealth during my administration, from election. And, I have to say “from election.” Because when I got elected, the stock market — the day after, the stock market went wild. If I would not have gotten elected, you would have had a crash. So I can’t give Obama credit — President Obama — credit for the tremendous gain from the day I won until January 20th, was when I took office. Because that was all attributed to the enthusiasm that we’ve caused and that we’ve had as a country. From the election until now, it’s been extraordinary. We’ve picked up $20 trillion. China has lost $20 trillion.
If my opponent had won, China would right now be number one in the world. Right now, we’re number one in the world, by far. We’re going to keep it that way. And if you have smart people sitting in this chair, in this position, you’re not going to lose.
So we’ve got an extraordinary country. We’re doing numbers that have never been done before. I think a number that makes me the happiest is that, proportionately, the biggest gainer in this entire stock market — when you hear about how much has gone up — blue-collar workers, the biggest proportionate gainer. They’ve had a tremendous gain. The workers have had a tremendous gain. People without a diploma — high school diploma — have had a tremendous gain. Our country is doing really, really well.
Just to finish: 401(k)s. People have 401(k)s. Many of you have 401(k)s. Your 401(k)s are up 50 percent, 60 percent — somebody told me 78 percent. People that were losing money all their lives are now doubling their income and doubling their — the money that they had in the bank is being doubled up. Their 401(k)s are going through the roof.
And they’re getting a lot of credit from their wives or husband, whichever one. Because the one that’s doing it is saying, “You’re a financial genius.” (Laughter.) “Darling, I love you very much. First time in your life, I think you’re a financial genius.” (Laughter.) And it would have been just the opposite had the opponent — this country was set for a big fall had we not come in and cut regulations immediately and let our country breathe. Whether it’s the pipelines that we approved on almost day one, or LNG plants.
I just left Louisiana; we cut a ribbon for a $10 billion LNG plant that’s so incredible. People wouldn’t believe it. It was many, many years trying to get permits; they couldn’t get the permits. But we got the permits and we got them very rapidly. And that was a great thing. Great thing. You know the plant I’m talking about, Rick. And we have about six of them now under consideration. We hadn’t built one in 40 years. Forty years. We didn’t build plants like that.
So, our country is doing things that nobody thought would even be possible. We’re doing incredibly well.
I’d like to start off — and if you’d like to stay for this, you can. Ben Carson is going to say a few words about HUD. And then I think Jared is going to talk a little bit about immigration and some of our plans for immigration. And then we’re going to go around the table.
And if the press wants to stay, you can. If you’d like to leave — it’s like I said the other day: I don’t mind. If you want to leave, that’s your option. You can leave anytime you want, okay?
SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you, Mr. President. And just before I talk a little bit about what’s going on at HUD, I just want to thank you for your incredible courage —
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
SECRETARY CARSON: — and stamina and resilience with unwithering criticism, unfair criticism, all the time.
And I would just, sort of, sum it up by saying: Would you rather have a non-politician whose speech is unfiltered, who gets a lot of stuff done? Or somebody with a silver tongue who gets nothing done?
THE PRESIDENT: But I thought I had a silver tongue. (Laughter.) I heard that so often. I always thought I had a silver tongue. (Laughter.) But I agree with you.
SECRETARY CARSON: But, you know, as I told you before, I think God is using you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CARSON: I really appreciate that.
THE PRESIDENT: And you have said that, and I appreciate it. Thank you, Ben.
SECRETARY CARSON: Now, once again, you know, promises made are promises kept. You said in the inaugural address that the forgotten men and women of this country would be forgotten no longer.
And last December, you took the extraordinary act of establishing a White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. And I’m privileged to chair that. We have, with us, Scott Turner, who is serving as our executive director, also.
And thanks in part to the work of the Revitalization Council, Opportunity Zones are delivering an incredible dose of energy and optimism and investment into some of our nation’s most economically distressed neighborhoods. And we’re proud to report a great success — this council’s prescription for prosperity. I have to throw in a medical thing there.
Now, Opportunity Zones are home to approximately 35 million Americans — about 10 percent of our population. One in three of them live in poverty. And this prescription indeed requires the coordinated efforts of all the councilmembers, all the agencies. And I want to thank all of my fellow agency heads for the tremendous help that they’ve provided in getting this done.
With unemployment, Opportunity Zones sitting near twice the national average — unemployment Opportunity Zones — forgotten families are just the people that you’ve been targeting.
And over the past year, property sale prices in Opportunity Zones have increased by 20 percent, which is about double the appreciation rate for eligible non-selected areas. So what does that mean? That obviously means that those people who live there and who own that property are benefitting significantly even though a lot of people said, “You’re not getting any benefits.” They are getting benefits. And a massive pool of capital is preparing to revitalize these areas with community and business development.
Now, less than two years ago, Secretary Mnuchin predicted that these Opportunity Zones would draw about $100 billion, and a lot of the pundits said that was way too optimistic.
But today, like so many other milestones this administration has surpassed, you know, we’re already approaching extraordinary figures. For example, last month, the National Council of State Housing Agencies announced that its Opportunity Zone Fund Directory has expanded to nearly $29 billion in anticipated investment.
THE PRESIDENT: And — but I might add that Opportunity Zones, for the media, is one of the hottest things anyone has ever done with respect to inner cities and with respect to minorities. It is working out far beyond anybody’s expectation.
SECRETARY CARSON: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think it’s been written about very much, but I’m not that surprised at that. But the Opportunity Zones are an incredible thing. And if you want to do something, you should write about them. Because what’s happened, the employment, the investment — people are investing that would have never invested in these locations in a million years, and they’re investing a lot of money. It has absolutely been — you can talk about the number of sites, the number of cities.
SECRETARY CARSON: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: What’s happened with Opportunity Zones is somewhat of a miracle. Nobody in their wildest imagination thought this could happen.
SECRETARY CARSON: That’s right. And to add onto that, you know, we’ve gotten a lot of positive reports, you know, from government officials across the country about the investors in Opportunity Zones and how it’s un- — stoking unprecedented interest in these underserved communities.
And, in fact, last week I was in Salt Lake City, and a big multi-family dwelling is going up with a concentration of people with autism and a center for helping autistic people to get back into the workforce. They were able to do that because of the completion of the gap funding through an Opportunity Zone fund.
And, you know, public officials from both sides of the political aisle are united in trying to maximize the impact of the program.
The Governor of Maryland, Hogan, is spending $56.6 million for training programs to supercharge the Opportunity Zones.
In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant has approved a special Opportunity Zones cycle as part of the low-income housing tax credit program offered through the Mississippi Home Corporation.
In Michigan, the Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has issued an executive directive that focuses state procurement practices on businesses located within Opportunity Zones. And, you know, the list goes on and on.
The Revitalization Council has played a key role in convening community stakeholders as well as championing the support of public officials and communicating a green light for businesses and investors.
And, as you know, the council consists of members across 17 federal agencies and federal state partnerships with a core mission to prioritize Opportunity Zones, including deregulation, grant funding, loan guarantees, infrastructure spending, and, importantly, crime prevention.
To date, the council has identified more than 160 federal programs that can increase targeting to Opportunity Zones through grant preference points, loan qualifications, reduced fees, and alterations in eligibility criteria. And we’ve already implemented more than 120 of these actions across the agencies.
The Revitalization Council has also been conducting a nationwide listening tour of Opportunity Zones to incorporate the input from community leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors. And to ensure local leaders are doing all that they can to help their constituents in these communities, I personally, in the last several weeks, have visited a lot of communities like Miami, Chicago, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Birmingham, Las Vegas, and more at the end of this week, more next week.
Speaking in traveling, we are — speaking of traveling, we are blessed to have with us Scott Turner, who is the executive director of the council. And he has been all over the place. He’s — every place I go, they say, “Scott was here, and he just told us all this stuff.” (Laughter.) He fertilizes the ground and it’s great.
And through the work of the Revitalization Council, we’re not only remembering Americans’ [sic] forgotten men and women, we’re helping to elevate them back into a path of pride and self-sufficiency.
And what really is opportunity? Opportunity has no color, but it colors everything. Opportunity has no creed, but it gives people strength to believe. Opportunity has no religion, yet it gives us each faith. And I want to thank you for the faith that you’ve shown to the Revitalization Council as we have championed this incredible initiative across the country. This is a game changer. Major game changer in this country. And we look forward to building on this exciting momentum.
You know, I’m very excited. I may not look excited; this is about as excited as I ever look. (Laughter.) But I am very excited about being able to participate in something that’s going to have such a positive effect on so many people in our country. And I want to thank you for pushing this.
And I’d like to hear just a bit from our council’s executive director, Scott Turner.
MR. TURNER: Good morning. Or good afternoon. Thank you, Dr. Carson, and thank you, Mr. President, for allowing me to serve in this role. And then, Cabinet members, it’s good to see you all again.
I looked up that term, “revitalize.” And to revitalize means to imbue with new life. It means to reinvigorate and to reenergize. And that’s exactly what we’ve seen over these last 12 weeks. We were here 12 weeks ago tomorrow, and when the President appointed me to be the shepherd of this council.
In the last 12 weeks, we’ve been to 21 cities. And we have a map that we’re going to put up for you just for your visualization. These are the cities that we’ve been to, and these are the cities that we will go to. And you can look at it after a while.
But I say that because we have gone around the country spreading the message of revitalization and true transformation. We have conducted over 65 roundtables. And per the President’s executive order, we’ve convened faithfully those education leaders, business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and, most importantly, community people — the people that sit in the neighborhoods on the front porch, that have seen the neighborhood, that know the pain and know the potential of these neighborhoods. Because, historically, these conversations have not happened.
So we convened these roundtables to have the hard conversations, to ask the hard questions, to create a sense of unity and understanding. You have investors sitting across from grandmothers from the community. You have new business owners sitting across from congressmen and senators and elected officials to talk about, “This community has not seen X, but it needs to see Z.” And that’s how it’s going to transform.
We talk about the spirit of the council. We talk about the spirit of the legislation. Yes, it’s economic development, but it’s also community development. It’s social impact. So the people inside the community can thrive and remain and benefit from the revitalization that’s going on in the community. We’ve seen tremendous result already because of Opportunity Zones.
And the President said it: This is unprecedented. Our country has not seen this in times before — from an investment standpoint, from an incentive standpoint, but also from a unity standpoint, where people who don’t talk, who don’t work together, who don’t convene together, come together for the first time. That’s America. And that’s what we’re seeing. And I’m so blessed and humbled.
Colorado Springs only has six Opportunity Zones, but they have one of the best prospectuses that I’ve seen. They have two hotels going up in downtown inside of an Opportunity Zone: a Marriot, and I think it’s a Springhill Suites. That’s not only going to spread economic development but supporting operating businesses. Jobs are being created.
On the west side of Atlanta — that’s one of the roughest parts, if you will, of Atlanta — we were taking a tour. The police don’t even go on the west side of Atlanta most times. Investment has not been on this side for many, many years. Drug deals, prostitution right on the corner. But across the street: new housing, affordable housing, going up. A private school operating out of church is being rehabbed right across the street, going up. City officials are moving the west side of Atlanta because of Opportunity Zones, and new life is being reinvigorated in this city. I’ve seen it.
And Cleveland, Ohio: new entrepreneurs, new business, workforce training, workforce housing, right across the street from each other because of the Opportunity Zones. It’s bringing new life; it’s reenergizing areas. And we’ve seen it with our own eyes.
In Mesa, Arizona, and Phoenix, Arizona, it’s a — it’s a great case of best practice. Arizona State University, which is a major research institution and an anchor institution, has partnered with Mesa and Phoenix city officials and a local developer to develop Opportunity Zones inside of the downtown corridors. Incubator businesses, operating businesses, multi-family housing, mixed-use development going up; jobs being created; economy being spurred; hope being restored.
Dr. Carson, down in Miami a couple weeks ago, and we were sitting across the table in Liberty Square, and two young men from that neighborhood looked at us and said, “We didn’t think this would ever happen where we live. This is Liberty Square. It’s a tough part of town.” But one of these young men worked on the project with the company that built the doors and the windows. And he says that all of his, quote-unquote, “homeboys” are now asking, “When is this going to be done? How can we get involved?” It’s bringing new life. It’s restoring dignity and hope.
And as we sat here that first meeting, that was our prayer: that dignity and hope would be restored. Long after we’re gone, this will have a generational impact. And that’s the goal. That’s the spirit. And so I say that to all of you. Thank you for your work. Many of your agencies are doing a tremendous job on this council. It’s a great, humbling experience for me to be the shepherd of this council.
And it’s my prayer that when history tells this story — what did we do with the opportunity that the Lord gave us in Opportunities Zones to bring a blessing to those that come after us? And I believe that will be the story when history tells it.
So thank you, Mr. President. God bless you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: So — so as most of the people in the room know, Scott was a great football player — not a good player; a great player. (Laughter.) Well known for being a great player. Scott, you may be better at this. (Laughter.) I don’t know if that’s an insult or not. You may be better at this, okay?
MR. TURNER: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. TURNER: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Really a great job. Thank you very much.
I’m going to ask — Ben, would you like to finish up? It’s a tough act to follow, Ben, right? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CARSON: No, I just want to reemphasize how important it is that everybody continue to make sure that their sub-Secretaries work with us. We’re getting an incredible amount done.
And one of the things that really encourages me about this is, you know, I go to places, and the governor is a Republican, the mayor is Democrat, the congressman is a Dem, and they’re all working together. We can tamp down all this hatred that exists in our country —
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
SECRETARY CARSON: — because our country is extraordinarily strong. Nobody can bring us down from the outside. We can only do it from the inside. And Jesus said it: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” These are the kind of efforts that I hope will be able to bring people together.
So thank you for this.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic job. Beautiful words. We appreciate it. Thank you, Ben. Really good job.
I’d like to ask Jared Kushner to talk about the immigration policy — the plans — what we have short-term and long-term. Thank you very much.
MR. KUSHNER: Thank you, Mr. President. And this actually fits very well with what we’ve spoken about. You were talking before about all the great trade deals and all the jobs that are coming to America. And then Dr. Carson and Director Turner — what they’ve been talking about with the Opportunity Zone Revitalization Council, really raising wages and lifting people up.
Now it’s time to go figuring out how to modernize our immigration system. When the President asked me to get involved in this last year, the President asked me to work with him to take the ideas that he had for a modern immigration system and figure out how to turn that into a very detailed proposal.
In May, the President presented the principles, and we got a very, very warm reception on the principles. And now we’re doing — as we finish the legislation, it’s about 620 pages. The group has been working very hard, again, at the President’s direction.
In Washington, I find a lot of people are very quick to say what they’re against. But it’s very important for us to articulate as an administration what we’re for, but to do it in detail. We’re not afraid to put out details because we think that this proposal is a very, very good proposal that really is great for America.
The Trump administration, despite what some people say, believes in safe, legal immigration and is against illegal and random migration. America is by far the greatest country in the world, and the greatest honor that somebody can have is to become an American citizen. This is something that we value, and this is something that everyone in the country should value.
America deserves to have the best immigration system in the world. We’ve studied a lot of the other countries — what they’ve done and what they have. With the economy, with where our history is at, we think we can have an immigration system that really is the envy of the world and also a border security system that keeps all of our citizens safe.
This bill will create a modern, merit-based immigration system that allows the best and the brightest from throughout the world to compete based on objective criteria to become American citizens.
This bill also — it creates the gold standard for border security. It was not designed by the politicians. We have a lot of input from politicians, but we went and spent a lot of time with the border security professionals and they told us what they need to fully secure the border.
But the border is not just about illegal immigration, it’s also about keeping drugs out of the country, making sure that we’re scanning all the different vehicles and packages that come to the country, and also expediting the commerce.
As our economy continues to grow and we have more and more packages that are exported and imported through our borders — our infrastructure is woefully out of date, and we want to make sure that we’re able to facilitate this trade in a very, very secure but expedited fashion.
I spoke to all of you last time about the objectives that the President has for his immigration plan. We obviously want to make sure that we fully secure our borders, that we protect American wages. For the first time in almost 20 years, because of the President’s policies, Americans’ wages are rising and they’re rising the fastest for the people who are most vulnerable and in the lowest wage categories.
We have — for the first time, we have more jobs available than people who are searching for jobs. And we’re bringing more and more people who aren’t in the workforce into the workforce.
We want an immigration system — the current system imports a lot of low-wage labor. We want to ensure we’re bringing in people who will grow GDP, create jobs, and do this in a way where we’re not putting downward pressure on wages at the lower levels. We want to attract the best and brightest and we want to welcome people to this country.
We want to prioritize the unification of immediate families from an immigration point of view. We want to make sure that we have labor in critical industries that we have in our country. We have so much growth in so many areas, but we need — we have a lot of labor shortages in different industries. We want to make sure that we’re bringing people in who are filling those gaps. And then we also have to make sure that we reserve our humanitarian values.
Right now, a lot of people take advantage of the largesse of America. We’re the number-one contributor to resettling refugees throughout the world. We’ve taken in a tremendous amount of refugees, but we have a lot of people who are abusing the system and using it as a way to get — to cut the line and to go in front of a system that was designed to really favor illegal immigration.
So, basically, the two pillars of what we put together — and it’s a very, very detailed proposal — is going to be the merit-based system, which I’ll go into more later, and then also the border security. And we have — I think these are both systems that we both be very — that we could all be very proud of.
So the infrastructure at the border is very important. What this does is it fully secures our border. It completes the wall. Right now we have over 400 miles of wall that has either been built or is going to be built. And that does a lot of the job. This would finish the job.
We want to make sure that all the ports of entry are fully modernized. We want to target that 100 percent of the people and goods in the vehicles that cross the border are fully scanned. We have the technology to do this, but just have not appropriated the resources to do that.
This will allow us to really stop all the drugs and counterfeit goods that are going through our ports of entry. And we want to make sure also for business that the trade is much more — goes through quicker and is facilitated properly. And we also want to make sure that there’s a self-sustaining revenue fund so that we’re not in a position where we allow this critical infrastructure to atrophy like we’ve allowed it to happen over time.
And then, finally, we want to make sure that we fully enforce the law. We have to fix some of the laws, which this bill does. It eliminates the magnates. But we want to make sure that it’s fully enforced. And the Border Patrol professionals — who really are amazing people, and I’ve had the real privilege to work with — they do an incredible job to keep us all safe, that they have all the resources they need to be successful.
So this was the slide that has the biggest impact on me and why this is such a critical thing to securing America’s future. Whereas if you look at the top of the slide, you’ll see that America’s system is a very outdated system compared to some of the peer countries that we compete with. We compete with these countries on trade, and we’re also competing with these countries for talent.
Right now, just 12 percent of people become legal immigrants. Last year we had 1.1 million people become citizens. That’s a great thing. We are keeping the number the same. And — but we want to change the composition of what’s that made up of. Twelve percent of the people who are coming in are filling economic needs that we have. Compare that to some of our peer countries like Canada; they’re at 53 percent. New Zealand at 59 percent. Australia, 63 percent. And Japan at 52 percent.
Under President Trump’s proposal, we’ll go to 57 percent, which puts right in the range and it will make us competitive. And again, the way we came up with this is we studied what other people in the world were doing, and we took their best practices and we figured out how to build a system that is able to really be the best of everything in the world.
So to really sum up: What this bill will do is it will lead to a fully secure border and it will solve the humanitarian crisis, and it will make we have a secure border both now and then long into the future. It will protect American wages.
The things that we’ve done in this country — whether it’s tax reform; whether it’s deregulation; whether it’s energy independence; all the work you’re doing on workforce training and Opportunity Zones and trying to lift people up — that’s been having a tremendous effect, but we want to make sure that the immigration system isn’t just importing low-wage labor to then keep wages down. We want to make sure that it’s growing America’s economy. And this will do that.
It enhances social diversity. It will bring in a wide range of countries. People will come in, and we’ve figured out how to make sure that we follow the practice that Australia does with diversity pooling to make sure that it gives us a good cross-section of people coming in to maintain what’s great about this country.
And then it also leads to growing the U.S. economy. It will create over $500 billion in tax revenues over 10 years, which is tremendous. And this happens because it will create a lot of jobs. It brings in a lot of people who are — that are paying into the social safety nets, not people who are coming in and then immediately taking from the social safety nets, which right now have to support Americans who are currently citizens.
So this will be a very tremendous thing, and it will make a lot of money for the country.
And then, finally, we’ll simplify a very complicated system. And then this is one of the amazing things: If you try to become an American citizen today and you go on our website — we have some very smart people in this room — you probably could figure it out, but it would take you a long time. If you go to a country like Canada and you go on their website, you could probably figure it out in about 10 minutes what qualifications you need, what visa you would apply for, and how it would happen. Our system, over time, it’s like a coat of paint on top of a coat of paint, on top of a coat of paint.
What we want to do here is really sand it down to the base and then have a new system that’s representative of the times, it’s representative of our values, and something we could all be proud of.
So thanks to the President’s leadership, we’ve worked very, very hard over the last seven months to put this together, really at your direction. This is your plan. We’ve met now with over 25 Senate offices. We’ve gotten extensive feedback from them. They’ve made a lot of good suggestions. We’ve tightened it up. And we’ll be ready to release it very soon.
We’re meeting today with the leadership in the House and the Senate, and hopefully what we can do is have a unified Republican plan for what it is that we’re for. And I think that these plans will keep Americans safer, will keep Americans more prosperous, and continue to make sure that the American Dream is available and America continues to be the Promised Land for people throughout the world who want to earn their way to become a citizen.
So thank you for your leadership. And you have information in your binders, and we have a 22-page summary that we’ll be submitting to all your offices. And again, immigration doesn’t just touch Homeland Security or Justice or State. It really touches all of your agencies. And so if we can get this right, it will really be something that will be great for our country both in the short-term, medium-term, and the long-term.
So thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic job. Thank you, Jared. This is a commonsense plan. It’s a plan where we’ve studied almost every country. Some good. Some bad. Some tremendously successful. Some not successful at all. And this is the best of everything. And it gives incentive to people.
It also — we have a problem. I’m called constantly by people; they want to have really smart people working in their companies. We have companies where you need very smart people, and we don’t have a provision for smart people. You can graduate from a college, you can be number one in your class in the best college in the country and be thrown out of the country the following day. And we want to be able to keep people in that have this kind of genius.
Silicon Valley is constantly complaining. They’re building places in Canada. They’re building places elsewhere because our immigration plans don’t allow this. Well, we have to have this. Whether we like it or not, we have to have this. And we’ll be able to get it.
But I’ve met with many people that have very good intentions, but have to have smart people and they have to have smart people stay in our country and be able to stay here for a period of time — not just for a short period of time, where they can’t even buy a house. They don’t know if their family should move. So we’re doing a lot of things to help people.
I think as you saw it — as Jared really put it very well — our country has tremendous immigration gap. These are plan after plan after plan, and each plan is very simple. Overly simple. When you put them together, they’re indistinguishable. You can’t — it becomes a maze of complexity that nobody even knows the answer to. You have people studying, where — you’re going to have a really beautiful system of immigration. People are going to be able to come into our country, be proud of our country, and help our country. We want them to help us. You know, it’s a two-way street; they have to help us also. And it’s met with great popularity.
Now, if it doesn’t get passed, because we do have the Democrats — because they’re against almost everything. We’d love to do it in a bipartisan way. We’ll make changes. We’ll do what we have to do.
But if it doesn’t get passed, it’s a campaign issue because we’ll pass it if and when we win the Congress. We’ll win the House and we should be able to keep the Senate, win the Senate, and maybe pick up some seats. And hopefully we’re going to keep the presidency. That, I feel very comfortable — I feel very confident about. But I feel also very confident we have a very good chance at winning back the House. And it may very well be an election issue, because this plan is a plan like no other. This is the best of everything all over the world. And it’s a very fair plan. We have to say that and stress it. Very, very fair plan. Very compassionate plan.
So it could very well be something that gets done where everybody puts politics aside and they get it voted on. Or if it isn’t — you know, the election is 15 months away. Very close. Who would have thought that? But it’s very close.
And we will put this as a major election issue. This is what people want. They want this kind of a plan. They want the compassion but they also want a merit-based plan where people come in and can help our country. So I appreciate you seeing that.
I think what I’d like to do, if I could — ask our Secretary of State, who is doing a terrific job — Mike Pompeo — to give you a little update on Iran.
I could possibly say a couple of things about North Korea. When I took over — when I became President, North Korea was ready to go to war. We were, I think, headed to a war. It would have been very quickly, too. It would have been a very bad war, a very rough war. But I believe we were headed in that one direction. There was no communication. There was no talk. There were nuclear weapons being — and nuclear everything being tested. Constantly, we’d be hearing about earthquakes. It wasn’t earthquakes; it was nuclear testing. And we were heading in a bad direction.
And you saw what happened a few weeks ago when we were in South Korea, and I said, the day before — there was no planning, no nothing — the day before, I said, “Hey, we’re here. Let’s say hello to Kim Jong Un.”