Path to citizenship doesn't make Trump address to Congress

President talks wall, deportations and switch to merit-based system

SAN ANTONIO – Speaking to Congress Tuesday night, President Donald Trump spoke of building a wall, deporting criminals here illegally and even changing the immigration system to a "merit-based" system, but comments on providing a path to legalization were made behind closed doors.

The promise of getting undocumented immigrants out of the country helped get Donald Trump into the White House, and his address to a joint session of Congress reflected many of those plans. In a private meeting with news anchors before the speech, Trump reportedly said he was open to legislation that would give legal status to some people living in the U.S. illegally and provide a pathway to citizenship to those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

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Immigration attorney Lance Curtright was hoping to hear that issue brought up in the president's address, but the moment didn't come.

"So yeah, I was expecting it to a certain extent, and I'm still expecting it at a later date. I was disappointed that it didn't come out last night in more details," he said.

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Instead, Curtright said the message from Trump was familiar. A plan to switch to a merit-based immigration system was new, but "everything else is the same old, Donald Trump anti-immigrant spiel, but in a much nicer way because he was talking to Congress, and he wasn't tweeting."

Curtright said he would be open to such a system, but it would be hard to comment on it at the moment.

"The devil is in the details, because we're left wondering 'what does that mean?'" Curtright said.

Though disappointed that the president didn't mention a path to citizenship in his remarks, Curtright said the fact it was mentioned beforehand has him slightly more hopeful.

The president did say "real and positive immigration reform is possible." Whether it actually happens and what it would look like remain to be seen.

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