Trump calls for prison reform and links violent crime to illegal immigration

Key Points
  • The president called for prison reform and helping prisoners find work after their sentences end.
  • Trump then turned to linking what he considers unchecked illegal immigration that allows gang members "to break into our country."
Trump: For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities

President Donald Trump offered a range of initiatives geared toward criminal justice reform during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

He started with a call for prison reform and solutions to help prisoners find work after their sentences end.

"As America regains its strength, this opportunity must be extended to all citizens," Trump said. "That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance."

Then the president's tone took a darker turn as he began to focus on crime resulting from what he called "open borders," linking crime to what he considers unchecked illegal immigration.

Gang members, such as those in the notorious MS-13 gang, the president said, are committing crimes in America due to immigration "loopholes" that allow violent criminals to "break into our country."

Trump said the White House has proposed new immigration legislation, appearing to reference the bills being debated in Congress regarding funding for the proposed border wall and other immigration issues.

The legislation will support ICE and border patrol agents, whom the president called "great people, these are great, great people that work so hard in the midst of such danger so that this can never happen again."