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Donald Trump sparks gasps of horror as he announces 'Victims of Immigration Crime Office' during Congress speech

Mirror logo Mirror 1/03/2017 Steve Robson

Credits: AFP/Getty Images

Credits: AFP/Getty Images
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

Donald Trump prompted gasps of horror last night as he announced a new office for 'Victims of Immigration Crime' in his first speech to Congress.

The President said the office, to operate as part of the Department of Homeland Security, will provide "a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests."

Democrats, who had remained largely silent throughout Trump's speech, let out a collective groan.

Many immediately expressed anger at the proposed measure.

Trump, who brought family members who had a relative murdered by an undocumented immigrant to the speech, was accused of using immigrants as scapegoats.

Democrat Bernie Sanders said: "The murder of anyone is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to all families who lose a loved one to violence."

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"But let’s be clear about what Donald Trump is doing tonight in inviting family members who saw a loved one murdered by an undocumented immigrant.

"He is stirring up fear and hatred against immigrants and trying to divide our nation."

"That is his political strategy and we must not allow him to get away with it. "

Others took to Twitter to voice dismay, highlighting that immigrants are statistically much less likely to commit crime that US nationals.

There was no detail on what the function of the new 'VOICE' office will be.

But it was part of a wider anti-immigrant undertone which rippled beneath Trump's speech, despite a clear effort to get a divided country behind his agenda.

Trump emphasised his desire to focus on problems at home by boosting the U.S. economy with tax reform, a $1 trillion infrastructure effort and an overhaul of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare.

After an initial month in office dominated by a fight over his temporary travel ban on seven Muslim-majority nations, Trump looked for a reset to move past a chaotic period that sowed doubts about his ability to govern effectively.

Trump said a broad immigration reform plan was possible if both Republicans and Democrats in Congress were willing to compromise.

He said U.S. immigration should be based on a merit-based system, rather than relying on lower-skilled immigrants.

Comprehensive immigration reform eluded his two predecessors because of deep divisions within Congress and among Americans over the issue.

Trump said reform would raise wages and help struggling families enter the middle class.

"I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation's security, and to restore respect for our laws," said the Republican president, who took a hard line against illegal immigrants in his 2016 campaign.

Trump has used his early weeks in office to repeat vows to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and intensify deportations of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.

At the same time, he has expressed sympathy for children who entered the country when their parents crossed the border without proper authority, the "dreamers" who so far are protected by an ordered signed by Obama.

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