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Trump’s plan would dent ‘chain migration,’ not end it
President Trump delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

President Trump claimed that a single immigrant can bring in virtually “unlimited” numbers of  relatives and said he would end what he calls “chain migration,” which refers to the practice of immigrants bringing other members of their families to the United States. His administration has said immigration should be based on skills and merit and less on family ties.

Under current law, citizens can sponsor their spouses, children, parents and siblings.

Trump would restrict family migration – “chain migration” as he puts it — to spouses and minor children. This plan would put a dent in family migration, but it would not end it.

To sponsor relatives, citizens must prove they can support them financially and the immigrants must pass background checks and meet other requirements.

Trump also portrayed “chain migration” as a danger to the United States, pointing out that some immigrants who arrived through family sponsorship or the visa lottery have committed crimes or attempted terror attacks.

Akayed Ullah, accused of setting off a pipe bomb in New York in December, came to the United States from Bangladesh in 2011, according to the Department of Homeland Security. He obtained a green card as the child of a sibling of a U.S. citizen sponsor.

And Uzbekistan-born Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, who allegedly killed eight people and injured a dozen others in November by driving a pickup truck down a bicycle path near the World Trade Center in New York, arrived in the United States in 2010 through the diversity visa lottery.

The visa lottery grants 50,000 green cards a year to immigrants from low immigration countries. Trump has also proposed to end this system, a plan that won support in a 2013 bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate.

Fact-checking and analysis of Trump’s State of the Union 2018 address

The Washington Post is live-blogging President Trump’s first official State of the Union address to Congress tonight. The speech begins at 9p.m. Eastern time and the president is expected to be, well, presidential.

Post national reporters Ashley Parker and Michael Scherer write that Trump aides say “he will deliver a unifying speech on American values and patriotism, one that touches on everything from the just-passed Republican tax plan and the new immigration proposal to trade, infrastructure and national security. The question is whether the swirl of conflict and diversion that has monopolized so much of his first year in office will distract from the message he is trying to deliver.”

The Post’s chief congressional scribe, Paul Kane, points out that it’s not just Trump whose behavior can be unpredictable — it’s also that of “mercurial” congressional Republicans when it comes to the president.

From Paul: “Sometimes they are in bitter fights with Trump, challenging his nationalist policy approach as an affront to traditional conservatism while also questioning his mental fitness for office. Other times they drift into a deep public swoon for the president that seems to directly contradict their previous criticism.”

Check back here for frequent updates on the speech, including real-time fact-checking and analysis of what the president says on key issues like the economy, national security and infrastructure.