Thursday, May 16, 2019


Office of the Press Secretary


Rose Garden

2:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  Please.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

We're here on this very beautiful spring day in the Rose Garden to unveil our plan to create a fair, modern, and lawful system of immigration for the United States.  And it’s about time.  (Applause.)

If adopted, our plan will transform America’s immigration system into the pride of our nation and the envy of the modern world.  Our proposal builds upon our nation’s rich history of immigration, while strengthening the bonds of citizenship that bind us together as a national family.

Throughout our history, we have proudly welcomed newcomers to our shores.  Out of many people, from many places, we have forged one people and one nation under God, and we’re very proud of it.  (Applause.)  We share the same home, we share the same destiny, and we pledge allegiance to the same, great American flag.  (Applause.)

Our policies have turbo-charged our economy.  Now, we must implement an immigration system that will allow our citizens to prosper for generations to come.

Today, we are presenting a clear contrast: Democrats are proposing open borders, lower wages, and, frankly, lawless chaos.  We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages, and safety of American workers first.  (Applause.)

Our proposal is pro-American, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker.  It’s just common sense.  It will help all of our people, including millions of devoted immigrants, to achieve the American Dream.

We are grateful to be joined this afternoon by a tremendous number of people from the House, the Senate, and my Cabinet.  And I love you all, but I won’t introduce you all because I’ll be here all day long.  (Laughter.)  But you’re all here.

Our plan achieves two critical goals.  First, it stops illegal immigration and fully secures the border.  And, second, it establishes a new legal immigration system that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.

The proposal begins with the most complete and effective border security package ever assembled by our country -- or any other country, for that matter.  (Applause.)  It’s so important.

This plan was not developed, I’m sorry to say, by politicians.  We have a lot of politicians.  But you respect the people and you know the people that have developed this plan.  It was designed with significant input from our great law enforcement professionals to detail what they need to make our border -- which is 100 percent operationally secure.  One hundred percent.

Everyone agrees that the physical infrastructure on the border and the ports of entry is gravely underfunded and woefully inadequate.  We scan only a small fraction of the vehicles, goods, and all of the other things coming across, including people.  And, sadly, the drugs pour across our border.  We’re going to stop it.

Investment in technology will ensure we can scan 100 percent of everything coming through, curbing the flow of drugs and contraband, while speeding up legal trade and commerce.  It’s the most heavily traded -- monetarily -- border anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close.

To make certain that we are constantly making the upgrades we need, our proposal creates a permanent and self-sustaining border security trust fund.  This will be financed by the fees and revenues generated at the border crossings itself.

Importantly, we’re already building the wall, and we should have close to 400 miles built by the end of next year, and probably even more than that.  It’s going up very rapidly.  (Applause.)

And I want to thank the Army Corps of Engineers.  They’re doing a fantastic job on the wall.  And that’s a wall that is desperately needed.

As we close the gaps in our physical framework, we must also close the gaps in our legal framework.  Critical to ending the border crisis is removing all incentives for smuggling women and children.  Current law -- (applause).  That’s right.  That’s right.  Women and children.  People have no idea how bad it is unless you’re there, and unless you are a member of law enforcement.  They see it every day, and they can’t believe what they see.

Current law and federal court rulings encourage criminal organizations to smuggle children across the border.  The tragic result is that 65 percent of all border-crossers this year were either minors or adults traveling with minors.  Our plan will change the law to stop the flood of child smuggling and to humanely reunite unaccompanied children with their families back home -- and rapidly.  As soon as possible.  (Applause.)

We must also restore the integrity of our broken asylum system.  Our nation has a proud history of affording protection to those fleeing government persecutions.  Unfortunately, legitimate asylum seekers are being displaced by those lodging frivolous claims -- these are frivolous claims -- to gain admission into our country.

Asylum abuse also strains our public school systems, our hospitals, and local shelters, using funds that we should, and that have to, go to elderly veterans, at-risk youth, Americans in poverty, and those in genuine need of protection.  We're using the funds that should be going to them.  And that shouldn’t happen.  And it's not going to happen in a very short period of time.  Have to get this approved.

My plan expedites relief for legitimate asylum seekers by screening out the meritless claims.  If you have a proper claim, you will quickly be admitted; if you don’t, you will promptly be returned home.

Crucially -- (applause) -- our plan closes loopholes in federal law to make clear that gang members and criminals are inadmissible.  These are some of the worst people anywhere in the world -- MS-13 and others.  Inadmissible.  Not coming in.  We're taking them out all the time by the thousands, a year, but they come in.  They are no longer admissible.  And for criminals already here, we will ensure their swift deportation.  (Applause.)

We will keep our communities safe.  Americans can have complete and total confidence that under this plan, the borders will finally be fully and totally secured.  (Applause.)

And I know a number of our Republican friends and others -- Lindsey, I see you sitting right there, and Steve, you're working on a plan -- an immediate plan.  A smaller plan, but a very immediate plan to stop it as of this afternoon.  So, as fast as you can get something done.  This is the big, beautiful, bold plan, but we need something very quickly.  And if you can get it done, that would be fantastic.  Okay?  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Appreciate you working on it.

A topic of less discussion in national media, but of vital importance to our country, is our legal immigration system itself.  Our plan includes a sweeping modernization of our dysfunctional legal immigration process.  It is totally dysfunctional.  The system will finally be fair, transparent, and promote equality and opportunity for all.

Every year, we admit 1.1 million immigrants as permanent legal residents.  These green card holders get lifetime authorization to live and work here and a five-year path to American citizenship.  This is the most prized citizenship anywhere in the world, by far.

Currently, 66 percent of legal immigrants come here on the basis of random chance.  They're admitted solely because they have a relative in the United States.  And it doesn't really matter who that relative is.  Another 21 percent of immigrants are issued either by random lottery, or because they are fortunate enough to be selected for humanitarian relief.

Random selection is contrary to American values and blocks out many qualified potential immigrants from around the world who have much to contribute.  While countless -- and you wouldn't believe how many countries, like Canada, create a clear path for top talent.  America does not.

Under the senseless rules of the current system, we're not able to give preference to a doctor, a researcher, a student who graduated number one in his class from the finest colleges in the world -- anybody.  We're not able to take care of it.  We're not able to make those incredible breakthroughs.  If somebody graduates top of their class from the best college, sorry, go back to your country.  We want to keep them here.

Companies are moving offices to other countries because our immigration rules prevent them from retaining highly skilled and even, if I might, totally brilliant people.  We discriminate against genius.  We discriminate against brilliance.  We won't anymore, once we get this passed.  And we hope to get it passed as soon as possible.  (Applause.)

Some of the most skilled students at our world-class universities are going back home because they have no relatives to sponsor them here in the United States.  And that's the only way.  We want these exceptional students and workers to stay, and flourish, and thrive in America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

As a result of our broken rules, the annual green card flow is mostly low-wage and low-skilled.  Newcomers compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans and put pressure on our social safety net and generous welfare programs.

Only 12 percent of legal immigrants are selected based on skill or based on merit.  In countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand -- and others -- that number is closer to 60 and even 70 and 75 percent, in some cases.

The biggest change we make is to increase the proportion of highly skilled immigration from 12 percent to 57 percent, and we'd like to even see if we can go higher.  (Applause.)  This will bring us in line with other countries and make us globally competitive.

At the same time, we prioritize the immediate family of new Americans -- spouses and children.  The loved ones you choose to build a life with, we prioritize.  And we have to do that.  They go right to the front of the line.  Right to the front of the line, where they should be.  (Applause.)

America’s last major overhaul of our legal admissions policy was 54 years ago.  Think of that.  So a major update -- and that's what this is: merit system and a heart system -- is long overdue.

The millions of legal immigrants who have come to America over the past half century are now cherished members of our national family.  Going forward -- (applause) -- it is their interest, and in their interest, and their children’s interest, to adopt a green card system that promotes a rising standard of living for all of our citizens.

Three in four new jobs at the end of last year went to Americans previously out of the workforce.  Our economy is better probably than it ever has been in the history of our country.  (Applause.)  And because of that great economy, we're able to do things that nobody ever thought possible before, and that's what we're going to do for immigration, finally.

Wages are rising but our current immigration system works at cross-purposes, placing downward pressure on wages for the working class, which is what we don’t want to do.

Last year, we also passed historic criminal justice reform.  (Applause.)  And we had tremendous backing -- bipartisan -- from Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals.  I guess we could also use the word "progressives."  A new word that's come about.

Americans with criminal records are getting a second chance at life in higher numbers than ever before.  Unfortunately, the current immigration rules allow foreign workers to substitute for Americans seeking entry-level jobs.  So, foreign workers are coming in and they're taking the jobs that would normally go to American workers.

America’s immigration system should bring in people who will expand opportunity for striving, low-income Americans, not to compete with those low-income Americans.  (Applause.)

Our proposal fulfills our sacred duty to those living here today, while ensuring America remains a welcoming country to immigrants joining us tomorrow.  And we want immigrants coming in.  We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country, but a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill.  (Applause.)

The White House plan makes no change to the number of green cards allocated each year.  But instead of admitting people through random chance, we will establish simple, universal criteria for admission to the United States.  No matter where in the world you're born, no matter who your relatives are, if you want to become an American citizen, it will be clear exactly what standard we ask you to achieve.  It will be made crystal clear.  (Applause.)

This will increase the diversity of immigration flows into our country.  We will replace the existing green card categories with a new visa, the Build America visa -- which is what we all want to hear.  (Applause.)

Like Canada and so many other modern countries, we create an easy-to-navigate points-based selection system.  You will get more points for being a younger worker, meaning you will contribute more to our social safety net.  You will get more points for having a valuable skill, an offer of employment, an advanced education, or a plan to create jobs.

We lose people that want to start companies, and, in many cases, they're forced to leave our country; go back, usually, to the country where they came from; and they'll start up companies, and some of those companies are among the biggest and most successful companies today in the world.  They could've started them right here in the United States, where they wanted to do it in the first place.  Now they'll have a chance.  (Applause.)

Priority will also be given to higher-wage workers, ensuring we never undercut American labor.  To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient.

Finally, to promote integration, assimilation, and national unity, future immigrants will be required to learn English and to pass a civics exam prior to admission.  (Applause.)

Through these steps, we will deliver an immigration system that respects, and even strengthens, our culture, our traditions, and our values.

Four months ago, I had the honor of participating in a swearing-in ceremony for new Americans, right here in the Oval Office.  It was a beautiful reminder that American citizenship is the most precious gift our nation has to offer.  When we swear in new citizens, we do more than give them a permit; we give them a history, a heritage, a home, and a future of limitless possibilities and potential.

Our nation used to pride ourselves on this capacity: our unique ability to instill the spirit of America into any human heart, into any human being.  Many of the Democrats have claimed to be for these concepts at different times in their careers and, in many cases, in very recent history.  And I hope that they will end up joining me and all of the people gathered together today in putting politics aside, putting security and wages first, and pursuing these historic reforms.  It's time.  (Applause.)
     And if for some reason -- possibly political -- we can't get the Democrats to approve this merit-based, high-security plan, then we will get it approved immediately after the election, when we take back the House, keep the Senate, and, of course, hold the presidency.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

     But wouldn’t it be nice to do it sooner than that?  (Laughter.)  But it's not a very long time, is it?  Sixteen months.

     One of the reasons we will win is because of our strong, fair, and pro-America immigration policy.  It's time to restore our national unity and reaffirm our national purpose.  It is time to rebuild our country for all Americans.

Together, we will create an immigration system to make America safer, and stronger, and greater than ever before.

Thank you.  God bless you all.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

                        END             2:59 P.M. EDT


President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Individuals to Key Administration Posts

Office of the Press Secretary
President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Individuals to Key Administration Posts
Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Erin Elizabeth McKee of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Republic of Vanuatu, Department of State.

Ms. McKee, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Indonesia.  Previously, Ms. McKee was Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator and Chief Human Capital Officer in the USAID Office of Human Capital and Talent Management, and Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Learning at USAID headquarters in Washington, D.C.  She has served at USAID Missions in Kazakhstan, Iraq, Peru, Bolivia, Israel, and Russia.  Ms. McKee earned a B.A. at the University of California at Davis, and an M.A. at the University of Washington.  She speaks Russian, Spanish, and Bahasa Indonesian.

LaJuana S. Wilcher of Kentucky, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Public Member).

President Donald J. Trump Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa

Office of the Press Secretary

President Donald J. Trump Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa


Today, President Donald J. Trump announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, on May 25, 2019, in Pretoria, South Africa.

The Honorable Kimberly A. Reed, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Bonnie Glick, Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development

The Honorable Andrew Olmem, Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council

Ms. Jessica Lapenn, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, United States Embassy Pretoria

The Honorable Cyril Sartor, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council

West Wing Reads President Trump to Unveil Immigration Plan Calling for New Merit-Based Points System

West Wing Reads

President Trump to Unveil Immigration Plan Calling for New Merit-Based Points System

“President Trump Thursday will unveil a detailed new vision for legislation overhauling the U.S. legal immigration system, rewarding skills and education as part of a new points system,” Steven Nelson reports for the Washington Examiner.

“Under the Trump plan, the share of legal immigrants permitted entry based on job skills would rise from 12% to 57%. Family bonds as a justification for legal entry would fall from 66% to 33%. Asylum and diversity admissions would fall from 22% to 10%.”

Click here to read more.
On the heels of numerous claims of political bias within some of America’s most powerful tech companies, “the White House has launched an online form asking people to share their experiences if they think political partisanship has led them to be silenced by social media sites,” Barbara Ortutay reports for The Associated Press. “The form does not ask respondents their political affiliation.”

Share your story: The Trump Administration is fighting for free speech online.
A major U.S. company announced this morning that it is “joining a White House initiative to provide training for new skills to U.S. workers,” Reuters reports. Inc, “which makes Internet-based software used by the sales and marketing departments of businesses, said it would provide online training for . . . workers to get jobs that involve Salesforce’s software systems.” That commitment, which Salesforce upped to 1,000,000 new job training opportunities at its announcement this morning, comes as part of the White House’s “Pledge to America’s Workers,” spearheaded by Ivanka Trump.  
“The U.S. Border Patrol's busiest region on the southern border now expects to spend more than $20 million on consumable items and services for asylum-seekers, up from the $12.5 million it had budgeted for the year due to a continued surge of families illegally crossing into the United States, according to federal data obtained by the Washington Examiner,” Anna Giaritelli writes. “Nearly 250,000 people who illegally crossed into the U.S. as part of a ‘family unit’ have been taken into custody across the southern border since October.”


Office of the Press Secretary


East Room

7:44 P.M. EDT

THE FIRST LADY:  Good evening.  Please, sit down.  The President and I are delighted to be with you, all of you, this evening as we celebrate the incredible work of the White House Historical Association over this past year and prepare for our continued work to preserve and restore the People’s House in the years to come.

I want to recognize and thank members of the Association’s Board of Directors who have joined us this evening: President Stewart McLaurin, Chairman Fred Ryan, and Vice Chairman John Rogers.  Your entire team has been incredible to work with, and that is a statement to your leadership and vision.  I would also like to thank Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary for being here, and for your continued support.

The White House Historical Association has been a real partner with my office over the past two years, helping to fund, preserve, and promote the important history and timeless beauty of the White House.

Our family is grateful to live in this true symbol of our nation’s history, but we are even more honored to play a part in restoring and enhancing our country’s sacred landmark.

It is only with the support and commitment of Historical Association that we are able to continue the tradition of protecting this home, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you.  I want to thank you all for being here tonight.  This is an evening I look forward to each year.

And now, I would like to take a moment so President can say a few words.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, sweetheart.  Thank you, honey.

Thank you very much, Melania.  She works so hard on these beautiful dinners, and she loves this house.  You really do.  You love this house.  And we appreciate it.
And the First Lady and I are delighted to welcome all of you to our home this evening as we honor the extraordinary work of the White House Historical Association.  Very special people.  Very hardworking people, and people that work with love.

I want to join Melania in again thanking the members of the Association’s Board of Directors: President Stewart McLaurin, Chairman Fred Ryan, and Vice Chairman John Rogers.  Thank you very much.  Great job.  You've done so much.

Thanks also to Secretary Wilbur Ross and his terrific wife and friend of ours, Hilary, a committed friend of this association.  And Wilbur had a very big day today.  You probably have read about it.  It came out at about 6 o'clock in the evening.  So, we're surprised to see you here, Wilbur.  You should be working right now, Wilbur -- (laughter) -- wherever you are.

The White House Historical Association works every day to honor, protect, and preserve the history of this priceless national landmark.  Through your many publications and activities, you make the White House and its history accessible even when people who live far away from Washington want to see the White House but they can't get to do it.  They see it through you.

This year, I want to congratulate everyone who helped pioneer your brand new interactive app that shares the majesty of the White House with even more people.  In particular, let me thank the Chair of the National Council of White House History, Teresa Carlson, for her incredible work on that project.  Thank you very much.  Where's Teresa?  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much, Teresa.

Here in Washington, the White House Historical Association helps to conserve the beauty and the grandeur of this absolutely remarkable place.  Last year, with the First Lady and her team, you completed the delicate and difficult work of restoring the Bellangé furniture.  Incredible stuff, by the way.  Good job.  That is restored very beautifully -- in the Blue Room, which dates back to President Monroe’s administration.  And as you all know, that's a long time ago.

You reupholstered the walls of the Red Room.  And you helped manufacture the rug that today graces the Diplomatic Reception Room.  It was designed by Melania, funded by the Association, and very importantly to all of us, it was made in America.
Every year, you also produce the White House Historical Association Christmas Ornament.  This year, the design honors President Eisenhower -- actually, a great President; people are starting to find that out -- the first sitting President to fly in a helicopter -- with an ornament that evokes the iconic image of Marine One.

Since President Eisenhower, the presidential helicopter has been constructed by Sikorsky, now a Lockheed Martin company.  And guess who we have here from Lockheed Martin?  We're grateful to be joined tonight by Lockheed Martin’s Chairman and a friend of mine, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson.  Marillyn, please.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Fantastic job.  They make the greatest fighter jet in the world.  And you got a problem if you're the enemy, because you can't see it.  It's stealth.  They have a little problem with that.  Right, Marillyn?  It's doing great, and you're doing great.  But you've been a great supporter, and I really thank you for that.  We all thank you, Marillyn.

I'm also excited to announce that, yesterday, the Association generously agreed to fund the renovation of the curator’s storage area here at the White House.  This will ensure that our nation’s historic treasures are properly safeguarded for future generations.  So important.  On behalf of the American people, thank you for that remarkable gift.  Thank you all.

The walls of this very room reflect your continued work.  The painting of President Theodore Roosevelt that usually hangs here is currently being conserved.  It's been temporarily replaced with the portrait of President John Quincy Adams.

On the other side of this building, a painting of another American President, Andrew Jackson -- he was an exciting President, with one of the most exciting election runs ever.  Maybe we beat it; I don't know.  But that's the one they seem to talk about.  Hangs behind my desk in the Oval Office.  Beautiful painting.

There, it's a constant reminder of a President who truly saw this home as the “People’s House” and saw himself as the People’s President.

 “Old Hickory” constructed the North Portico, the face of this building.  Today, it looks on to Lafayette Square, where an equestrian statue of Jackson -- a really beautiful statue -- is emblazoned with the words, “Our Federal Union, It Must Be Preserved.”  He knew.  Those words reflect both the true calling of your organization and all who serve here: We are preserving America’s heritage for all of the people.  And this is a truly beautiful building.  Truly beautiful building.

The story of the White House is the story of our country and the people who dreamed it, who built it, and who defended it every single day.  They worked so hard and they defended it so well.

Every day, hundreds of patriotic Americans come to work here to secure our country’s future.  Tonight, we express our tremendous gratitude to everyone who devotes their time, energy, and resources to protect our inheritance of the past.

Thank you for everything you've done to ensure this magnificent house will be enjoyed by all Americans for many, many years to come.

God bless you, and God bless America.  And thank you being with us tonight.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

                                           END                7:52 P.M. EDT

Readout from the White House Historical Association Dinner

Office of the First Lady
 Readout from the White House Historical Association Dinner
First Lady Melania Trump joined her husband in welcoming leaders and donors of the White House Historical Association to the White House in celebration of a year of great work.

The White House Historical Association is instrumental in helping to preserve and to protect the timeless history and beauty of the White House.  The President and First Lady thanked members of the board, leadership from the Historical Association, and generous donors for their support.

Along with the restoration of the Bellangé Suite and the reupholstered walls in the Red Room, the First Lady works closely with the White House Historical Association on projects that preserve and protect the People’s House.  Over the last year, Mrs. Trump oversaw the restoration of damaged wall upholstery and drapes in the Green Room, the reframing and conservation of artwork throughout the White House, as well as fully restoring the President’s Elevator.  Mrs. Trump continues to manage the installation of new upholstery in the Diplomatic Room and, just as recently as this week, the preparations for the renovation of the on-site curatorial storage room are beginning, which will further protect the White House collection.  The White House Historical Association also plays an integral part in the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House. 

“It is a great privilege to be entrusted with preserving this historic landmark,” First Lady Melania Trump states.  “My family is honored to call the White House our home.  The public should be able to enjoy the timeless rooms and historic halls for many years to come.  I am grateful to the generous donations and support of the White House Historical Association and I look forward to undertaking more projects.”