The Slatest

Trump Says He Wants Legal Immigrants “in the Largest Numbers Ever,” but Has Restricted Paths to Legal Immigration

President Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 5, 2019.
President Trump delivers his State of the Union address in Washington on Tuesday.
Jim Young/Reuters

During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Trump reiterated he wasn’t anti-immigration, he was pro–legal immigration. How pro? Very pro. The most pro. “Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways,” Trump said to applause. “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” Largest numbers ever, huh?

Trump, being Trump, ad-libbed the “in the largest numbers ever” overstatement, but the reality is that Trump, as president, has significantly narrowed the legal paths of immigration. During his presidency the Trump administration has “granted fewer visas, approved fewer refugees, ordered the removal of hundreds of thousands of legal residents whose home countries have been hit by war and natural disasters and pushed Congress to pass laws to dramatically cut the entire legal immigration system,” USA Today reports. “In fiscal year 2017, the U.S. approved 559,536 foreigners for legal permanent residence (known as a green card), a 9% drop from the previous year. So far in 2018, the numbers are even lower, falling an additional 6%, according to State Department data.”