Trump takes steps to keep immigrant parents, kids together
DULUTH -- Families crossing the American border illegally will be kept together, but President Donald Trump promises to remain tough on immigration.
In front of 9,000 people in Duluth, the Republican president said American businesses need immigrants. "We need people to help, but we want them to come in through the merit system."
His comments came hours after he signed an executive order putting a stop to a system that separated more than 2,000 children from their parents, who were under arrest for illegally entering the United States.
Trump did not say what else needs to be done, but made it clear that he is not done working on the country's immigration system.
"We have the most pathetic immigration laws in the world," Trump told an economic roundtable before a rally.
When the rally audience began to chant "build the wall," Trump told them that the wall between the United States and Mexico already is under construction.
"We are going to make it great for Americans," Trump said during his nearly hour on stage.
Up to 3,000 people were turned away when the Amsoil Arena filled up.
"We are going to have very strong borders, but at the same time will be keeping families together," Trump said Wednesday afternoon after he signed the executive order to keep parents and children together.
Administration officials have put children in what Democrats call "cages" while their parents were jailed.
"This has gone on for decades..." Trump said. "Anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it. We don't want to see families separated."
Democrats and Republicans both called for a policy change so children could stay with their parents.
Even though Trump changed the policy Wednesday, Lori Speer of Spicer, Minn., supports separating children from parents arrested for illegally coming to the United States. She said it is not right for parents "dragging their kids across country, putting them in harm’s way. I'm a mom of four. I would not do that to my children."
She said Trump "connects with people."
Richard Simones of Farmington, Minn., arrived at 9:15 a.m. for the night rally.
On immigration, he said, "people should follow laws and go to ports of entry." However, he added, Wednesday's executive order is fine "as long as people who violated laws are prosecuted."
Melanie Musick of Duluth said she does not agree with the executive order. It could influence more people to cross the border, she said.
Rachel Fafinski of Lakeville, Minn., agreed with the executive order because it is important to keep families together.
Democrats, especially candidates, used Trump's visit to invigorate their supporters, mostly talking about immigration.
Governor candidate Lori Swanson said that as state attorney general she has fought several Trump immigration incentives.
"And now his administration is ripping children away from their parents," she wrote to supporters, promising "to do anything within my legal powers to stop this inhumane activity."
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a state attorney general candidate and the No. 2 person in the national Democratic Party, called the separation policy "heartless, cruel and immoral."
The Trump rally, organized by his campaign committee, was in response to a request from Pete Stauber, a Republican trying to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in the 8th Congressional District.
Trump reminded his audience that he narrowly lost the 2016 campaign in Minnesota. "In two and a half years, it is going to be really easy, I think. I needed one more visit, one more speech."
The president's speech started late, delayed by his signing the immigration executive order. People waiting were hot in skyways that were not air conditioned, and then electricity went out in the arena where he appeared. Power was restored before Trump arrived.
Trump's Duluth visit was one of two planned in two weeks in the Upper Midwest. On June 27, he will be in Fargo to support U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer’s run for the U.S. Senate. It is to be a rally format, similar to his Minnesota visit.