DONALD Trump has indicated he intends to follow Australia's lead as he moves to toughen the country's stance on migration.

During his highly-anticipated maiden speech to Congress, the new US President said America's immigration system was costing taxpayers billions.

"Nations around the world like Canada, Australia and many others have merit based immigration systems. It's a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially," he said.

"Yet in America we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.

"Switching away from this current system of lower skilled immigration and instead adopting a merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits."

Mr Trump said he was going to bring back millions of jobs to the US and protecting workers also meant reforming the system of legal immigration.

"It will save countless dollars, raise workers' wages, and help struggling families, including immigrant families, enter the middle class, and they will do it quickly, and they will be very, very happy indeed.

"I believe strongly in free trade, but it also has to be fair trade. It's been a long time since we had fair trade," he said.
"The current outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers and puts great pressure on taxpayers."

Mr Trump said America had spent about $6 trillion in the Middle East, while the country's own infrastructure crumbled.

"With a $6 trillion, we could have rebuilt our country twice," he said.

"I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States financed through both public and private capital, creating millions of new jobs."

He said this effort would be guided by two core principles "buy Amercian and hire American

KEEPING OUR NATION SAFE

Mr Trump said the government would "soon begin" the construction of the wall along America's southern border with Mexico.

"As we speak tonight, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens," he said.

"To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this one question: What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income or their loved one because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?"

The President said the government was also taking strong measures to protect the nation from radical Islamic terrorism.

"According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offences since 9/11 came here from outside of our country."

Mr Trump went on to say his administration had been working on improved vetting procedures.

"We will shortly take new steps to keep our nation safe, and to keep those out who will do us
harm," he said.

"We cannot allow a set of terrorists to form in our country, we cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.

"As promised, I directed the Department of Defence to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS, a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men and women and children, of all faiths and all beliefs.

"We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.

"I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran's ballistic missile program and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel."

'UNITED OVER ONE VERY SIMPLE BUT CRUCIAL DEMAND'

Mr Trump said he would not allow the mistakes of recent decades to define the course of the country's future.

"For too long we've watched our middle-class shrink as we've exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.

"We've financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, and so many other places throughout our land. "We've defended the borders of other nations while leaving our own borders wide open for anyone to cross, and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate. And we've spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled."

But he said the "earth shifted beneath our feet" in 2016 when rebellion started and grew into a loud chorus.

"The chorus became an earthquake and the people turned out by the tens of millions and they were all united by one very simple but crucial demand - that America must put its own citizens first, because only then can we truly make America great again," he said.

Mr Trump said dying industries would come roaring back to life, heroic veterans would get the care they need and the military would be given the resources it deserved.

"Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, tunnels and airports gleaming across our very, very beautiful land," he said.

"Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people."

The President went on to spruik some of his administration's achievements.

Since in inauguration, Mr Trump said Ford, Fiat, Chrysler, Lockheed, Walmart, Intel and many others have had announced they would invest billions in the US and would create tens of thousands of jobs.

"The stock market has gained almost $3 trillion in value since the election on November 8 - a record," he said.

He said the government had saved hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the cost of the F-35 jet fighter, and would save billions more on contracts across the government.

"We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential federal workers," he said.

"We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5-year ban on lobbying by executive branch ... and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists by a foreign government."

Mr Trump said the government had imposed a new rule which mandated that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.

He said he had also cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, and had issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.

Mr Trump also mentioned that he had withdrawn the US from the "job-killing" Trans-Pacific Partnership, although this was met with less enthusiastic applause.

"I have directed the Department of Justice to form a taskforce of reducing violent crime. I have further ordered to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels," he said.

"We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth, and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted."

Referring to his controversial immigration policy, Mr Trump said his administration had answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security.

"By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone," he said.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR FIRST SPEECH

DONALD Trump will deliver his highly-anticipated maiden speech to Congress today that will aim to reframe his presidency amid growing calls for clarity about his policy proposals.

Mr Trump's address comes at a pivotal moment for the new US president, who was elected on pledges to swiftly shake up Washington and follow through on the failed promises of career politicians.

He will be standing before Democrats appalled by his politics and policies, and many Republicans who were barely more supportive during the presidential campaign.

Republicans, impatient to begin making headway on legislation, hope Mr Trump arrives on Capitol Hill armed with specifics on replacing the "Obamacare" health care law and overhauling the nation's tax system, two issues he's so far talked about in mostly general terms.

GOP politicians want to act on both this year but are divided over how to proceed.

In one surprise, Mr Trump may also voice support for immigration legislation, a senior administration official said ahead of the address.

During a traditional pre-speech lunch with news anchors, Mr Trump said he was open to a "compromise" bill that could include legalisation for some of the millions of people living in the US illegally and a pathway to citizenship for the "Dreamers" - people brought to the US illegally as children.

A person with knowledge of the meeting confirmed Mr Trump's comments on the condition of anonymity in order to reveal the private discussion.

Mr Trump has had turbulent start to the presidency.

The White House bungled the rollout of a sweeping immigration and refugee ban and has been plagued by persistent questions about Trump campaign advisers' contacts with Russia during the election.

The president has picked fights with the media and the intelligence community, blaming agencies he now oversees for leaking classified information that put him in a negative light.

This has left him saddled with historically low approval ratings for a new president.

Just 44 per cent of Americans approve of his job performance, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey.

News Corp Australia


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