President Donald Trump said he will soon introduce legislation that would bar immigrants in the United States from being on welfare for their first five years in the country.
“We’ll be putting in legislation to that effect very shortly,” he said, drawing enthusiastic applause from an audience of about 6,000 people, according to an estimate by the U.S. Secret Service.
At beginning it wasn’t quite clear how his proposal would differ from existing practice. Under a 1996 welfare law signed by former President Bill Clinton, legal immigrants must live in the United States for a minimum of five years to become eligible for social aid programs, The Washington Post reads.
The President also told the crowd that he is considering to put solar panels on the wall that he has pledged to build on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The higher it goes, the more valuable it is,” Trump said. “Pretty good imagination, right? . . . We could make it really look beautiful, too.”
Trump reportedly made a similar suggestion earlier this month during a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders.
The Iowa rally was part of a push by the White House to get Trump out on the road more, speaking to supportive crowds in swing states, where he is likely to get the kind of public adulation that he isn’t experiencing much of the time in Washington. The trip followed visits over the past two weeks to Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida — official White House trips that featured orchestrated settings where Trump was surrounded by political supporters.
The gathering was the first one organized by his campaign committee since an event in Pennsylvania in late April marking the President’s 100th day in office. In last year’s election, Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Iowa by nearly 10 percentage points. However, he lost Linn County, the jurisdiction in which Cedar Rapids sits, by about 10,000 votes.
Trump was greeted in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday by an “open letter” on the front page of the local paper.
Although it noted that Trump maintains the support of some of those who voted for him, the letter chastised the president for coming to Iowa primarily to hold a campaign rally.
“Mr. President, the campaign is over,” said the letter in the Gazette. “You won. Now is not the time to rally. Now is the time to sell your policies, listen to Americans with a stake in those efforts and govern.”
Before the rally, Trump appeared at a community college here at an event billed as an opportunity to talk about agricultural innovation. He pledged that he would include a provision in his promised infrastructure package to enhance broadband access in rural areas. He also talked about the support he received from farming communities during the election.
“Those electoral maps, they were all red, beautiful red,” the President said.
A few hours before the rally started, a couple hundred progressive protesters gathered outside the arena, including several dozen opposed to Trump’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood. Several protesters held signs calling for Trump to be impeached.