We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad. This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, in some cases years and years waiting — not right.
The Senate has failed to act on these nominations, which is unfair to the nominees, and very unfair to our country. Now is the time for bipartisan action. Believe it or not, we have already proven that, that’s possible.
In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new farm bill, historic V.A. reforms, and after four decades of rejection, we passed a V.A. Accountability, so that we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans.
And just weeks ago, both parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform. They said it couldn’t be done.
Last year, I heard through friends, the story of Alice Johnson. I was deeply moved.
In 1997, Alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first time, non-violent drug offender. Over the next 22 years, she became a prison minister, inspiring others to choose a better path. She had a big impact on that prison population and far beyond.
Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing, and the need to remedy this total injustice. She served almost that 22 years, and had expected to be in prison for the remainder of her life.
In June, I commuted Alice’s sentence. When I saw Alice’s beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did something right. Alice is with us tonight, and she is a terrific woman. Terrific. Alice, please.
Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny. Thank you very much, Alice. Thank you very much.
Inspired by stories like Alice’s, my administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the First Step Act into law. Big deal. It’s a big deal. This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community.
The First Step Act gives non-violent offenders the chance to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, states across the country are following our lead. America is a nation that believes in redemption.
We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee. In 1996, at the age of 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored many of his fellow inmates.
Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act. Matthew, please. Thank you, Matthew. Welcome home.
Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis. Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland, and secure our very dangerous southern border. Now is the time for Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business.
As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection. I have ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare for this tremendous onslaught.
This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well-being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today who follow the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways.
I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally. Tonight, I’m asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country. No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working-class and America’s political class than illegal immigration.
Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders, while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards. Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration, reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools, hospitals that are so crowded you can’t get in, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.
Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate, it is actually very cruel.
One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country. Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide-open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.
Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. The savage gang MS-13 now operates in at least 20 different American states, and they almost all come through our southern border.
Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York city. We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border, they are going to keep streaming right back in.
Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens. I’ve gotten to know many wonderful angel moms and dads and families. No one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache that they have had to endure.
Here tonight is Debra Bissell, just three weeks ago, Debra’s parents, Gerald and Sharon were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada home by an illegal alien. They were in their 80s and they are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.
Also here tonight are Gerald and Sharon’s granddaughter Heather and great-granddaughter Madison. To Debra, Heather, Madison, please stand. Few can understand your pain. Thank you and thank you for being here. Thank you very much.
I will never forget and I will fight for the memory of Gerald and Sharon, that it should never happen again. Not one more American life should be lost because our nation failed to control its very dangerous border.