President Donald Trump on Wednesday night held a campaign-style rally in Iowa, at which he congratulated the Republican winners of Tuesday’s special elections in South Carolina and Georgia. He also sent his well wishes to Rep. Steve Scalise, who was injured in last week’s shooting in Alexandria, Virginia.
Accolades aside, a noteworthy, policy-related aspect of his rally was announcing his intentions to pursue legislation that would bar immigrants from being eligible for welfare for at least five years.
But U.S. immigration law already bars most foreigners who enter the country on immigrant visas from being eligible for federal benefits for the first five years.
It’s unclear how Trump’s proposal differs from the current situation.
Trump said “the time has come” for “new immigration rules” that would require those seeking admission to the country to be able to support themselves financially. He said he will be “putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”
And related to immigration, Trump brought up his plans for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We are thinking about building a wall as a solar wall,” he said. “So it creates energy. And pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money. And that’s good. Right? Is that good? You are the first group I’ve told that to. It makes sense. Let’s see. We are working it out. Solar wall panels. Think of it, the higher it goes, the more valuable it is. Pretty good imagination, right? My idea. We have a good shot. That’s one of the places where solar really does work. At the tremendous sun and heat. We will see what happens.”
The president also commented on Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s presence at the rally, noting that he wants rich people, not “poor” people, in positions of power on economic issues in his administration. In January, Forbes reported that Ross, an asset investor, is worth $2.5 billion.
”These are people that are great, brilliant business minds,” Trump said. “That’s what we need. That’s what we have to have. So the world doesn’t take advantage. We can’t have the world taking advantage of us anymore. I love all people. It rich or poor. But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense? If you insist, I’ll do it — but I like it better this way.”
The president kicked off the rally at U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids saying, “It is great to be back in the incredible, beautiful state of Iowa. It’s always terrific to be able to leave that Washington swamp and spend time with the truly hard working people we call American Patriots, truly amazing people.”
He then congratulated Karen Handel, who won the Georgia special election, and Ralph Norman, who won the South Carolina special election.
“I also want to extend our congratulations to Karen Handel of Georgia,” the president said. “And we can’t forget Ralph Norman in South Carolina. He called me and I called him. He said, ‘you know what? I felt like the forgotten man.’ But he won beautifully. A lot of people didn’t show up because they thought he would win … Karen is going to be really incredible.”
Trump added that Handel will target “tax cuts, reducing crime, securing that Second Amendment, and that looks like it’s in great shape with Judge Gorsuch.”
According to the Georgia Secretary of State, Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff by a 52.13 percent-47.87 percent margin. That translated to 132,459 votes for Handel, and 121,635 votes for Ossoff. And in South Carolina, Republican Ralph Norman won Tuesday’s special election in that state’s 5th Congressional District, defeating Democrat Archie Parnell with 51 percent of the vote. Parnell had roughly 48 percent of the vote.