WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address on Tuesday night:
“Our nation faces three incredibly daunting challenges today: the corruption of our democracy; the undermining of the fundamentals for thriving families; and carbon pollution driving climate chaos and threatening the future of our planet.
“For over an hour and a half, the American people listened to President Trump deliver his State of the Union address, and not once did we hear him confront any of these major challenges.
“This wasn’t an address designed to bring America together. It was a profoundly partisan speech lacking in any kind of leadership.
“What we heard was that President Trump continues to be focused on dividing Americans rather than uniting us. He remains singularly focused on his unpopular, racist wall, and in using terror and trauma as a deterrence against refugees seeking asylum.
“And he made it crystal clear that he is terrified of any kind of investigation or oversight from Congress. It’s no wonder why; this president has continually lied to and misled the American people from the moment he took the oath of office. And he continued to do so tonight with his fearmongering claims of a crisis along our southern border.
“There is, in fact, a crisis at our border. But it’s a humanitarian crisis that President Trump and his administration created with their family separation policy. My guests to the State of the Union were a mother and a daughter who fled Guatemala fearing for their lives and who experienced the horror of the president’s humanitarian crisis firsthand. Albertina Contreras Teletor and her daughter Yakelin Garcia Contreras—who turned 12 years old today—were separated for a terrifying two months at the southern border in the spring of 2018. President Trump could have looked up to where they sat in the chamber balcony, and assured them that nothing like this would ever happen in the United States again. Instead, he lied to the American people about a fabricated national security threat, and insisted yet again that a fourth-century wall will keep out the ‘threat’ of vulnerable families like Yakelin and Albertina.
“My response to the president is this: The state of our union will only be stronger when we invest in working families; when we reclaim our position as a beacon of hope and humanity in the world; and when we embrace our own diversity as the fundamental strength of our nation.”