WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump declared on Tuesday in his State of the Union address to Congress that what he calls America's "open borders" had allowed drug gangs to pour into US communities.
Pointing out a guest -- a mother who lost two daughters to murder -- Trump urged Congress to come together to "close the loopholes" that he said allow in groups like El Salvador's MS-13.
"Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes and our laws to enter the country as illegal, unaccompanied, alien minors," Trump claimed, laying out his immigration plan.
If the president wins congressional backing for his immigration plans they will include four pillars tightening what he and his populist supporters see as weak links in current law.
The first pillar, and one that might not find immediate support with the most vocal members of Trump's anti-immigrant base, is a "path to citizenship" for undocumented migrants who arrived at a young age.
The second pillar, Trump said, "fully secures the border" by building a huge wall on the Mexican frontier and hiring more immigration agents.
The third pillar would end America's Green Card lottery, and replace it with a so-called merit-based system for migrants with skills needed by US businesses.
And the fourth pillar -- an idea that drew protests from Democrat lawmakers during the speech, would end "chain migration" policies that allow migrants to bring in family members.