White House East Room Washington D.C. January 24 4:38 P.M. EST
Thank you very much. Please, sit down. Please. (Applause.) It is a great place, isn't it? It's the White House. It's a great place.
And it's my pleasure to welcome our nation's mayors to the White House. We are here today to strengthen the bonds of cooperation between the federal and local governments so that we can deliver great jobs, excellent schools, affordable healthcare, and safe communities for all of our people.
We are honored to be joined by Secretary Alex Azar - Alex, thank you very much. Secretary Ben Carson, who's done a wonderful job and deals with the mayors a lot. Right, Ben? Really great. Administrator Jovita Carranza - thank you very much. Thank you, Jovita.
And Acting Secretary Chad Wolf - and your numbers are great. I just looked at your numbers. They're great, (inaudible). (Laughter.) We're - thank you very much, Chad. It's a lot of progress on the border. He - among many other things, including Coast Guard, he controls the border, and he's doing a good job.
I also want to thank Mayor Bryan Barnett and - for helping to organize today's meeting. It's been a tremendous success that so many people accepted; few people didn't accept, actually. And I want to thank you all very much.
All across America, cities are being lifted up by our booming economy. America is now the hottest economy anywhere in the world.
We've created over 7 million jobs since the election - a number that would be unthought of. If I ever said that during the campaign - you know the feeling - they would have gone after me very strongly, huh? Huh? (Laughter and applause.)
The unemployment rate is the lowest in more than half a century. African American, Hispanic American, Asian American unemployment have reached the lowest levels ever recorded in the history of our country. African American, Hispanic American poverty rates are at record lows. Great. (Applause.) That's great. More than 2 million millennials have gotten jobs, and their wages have grown by nearly 5 percent every year - which is another record.
We doubled the child tax credit, benefitting 40 million American families. And we've lifted 650,000 single mothers and 1.4 million children out of poverty. (Applause.) True. Ten million people have been lifted off of welfare in less than three years.
Earnings for the bottom 10 percent are rising faster than earnings for the top 10 percent. You don't hear that too often, but it's been incredible, actually.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, every single metro area in the United States has seen incomes rise. Median household income is at the highest level ever recorded. And, speaking of that, in terms of dollars: Under President Bush, it was a $450 increase over eight years; under President Obama, it was a $975 increase over eight years; and under your favorite President, President Trump - (laughter) - it was almost a $10,000 increase over less than three years. So we did it, as of less than three. (Applause.) We've been here now just three, as of a few days ago. Time flies. But $10,000. So that's - in a three-year period. So that's something really special. And they've never seen growth like that.
We're delivering for Americans and we're doing it for every race and color, religion and creed, creating not only the most prosperous, but also the most inclusive economy anywhere in the world. I believe that. It's the most inclusive economy anywhere in the world. That's a great thing.
To create jobs and opportunity, we designated nearly 9,000 Opportunity Zones in distressed communities where capital gains on long-term investments are now taxed at zero. Opportunity Zones have been incredible. Tim Scott, the senator - great senator - from South Carolina, came to me two years ago, and he had this idea. And nobody knew it was going to work out the way it has, but billions and billions of dollars are pouring into the communities. Part of it also is the fact that we're doing so well, as an economy, that people have the money to put in. But it's - there's probably never been anything like this.
Tremendous wealth is now pouring into areas that, for 100 years, saw nothing - no dollars, nothing. The 35 million Americans who live in these areas have already seen their home values rise by $25 billion over the country.
My administration also understands that, for our cities to thrive, our citizens must be safe and they must be secure. And that's why we are working with state and local governments through the revitalized Project Safe Neighborhoods - you know that program: Project Safe Neighborhoods - to adopt the most proven and effective crime-fighting techniques.
We're also enacting landmark criminal justice reform to improve reentry programs and reduce all of the things that we try and strive so hard to take care of. If you look at our prisons now, we have people coming out, and they're able to get jobs more than at any time ever in the history of our country. That's because the economy is so good, and we've given incentives, and it's been an incredible success. Employers are really, really happy.
And people aren't going back to jail at anywhere near the clip. It's been something that's been incredible - criminal justice reform. I was asked by a group of people that were on the very liberal side of things, and we got a group of people that were on the very conservative side of things, and we got it done. Nobody was able to get it done. We got it done. Criminal justice reform. And that's something we're very proud of. It's really working fantastically well, as a lot of you - as a lot of you know. (Applause.)
Before my election, violent crime was on the rise, and America saw the steepest two-year consecutive increase in murders in nearly half a century. It was in bad, bad condition. In just a short time, we've reduced the number of murders in America's major cities by more than 10 percent. And we're getting tremendous numbers coming out now, much better than even that.
The nationwide violent crime rate has declined for two straight years. And, working with many leaders in this room, we have boldly tackled the opioid crisis. We've really made tremendous progress. In some cases, down 21 percent. Now, 21 percent is not much, when you think of the problem, but we have a lot of things happening.
And fentanyl - I spoke with President Xi of China, and they're coming down very hard on fentanyl. We made our deal with China, as part of it - just in terms of relationship. I said, "Really, you have to do something." And they've put in very strong penalties, and their penalties are really strong. You want to talk about penalties? Those are strict. (Laughter.) And their court cases go slightly quicker than ours. (Laughter.) Like - like one day. One day. They call them "quick trials." They go quick. (Laughter.) They go so quick, you don't know what happened. (Laughter.) Ours take 15 years; theirs takes one day. But he was - he's been terrific on that. And we're seeing a tremendous - a tremendous difference in the fentanyl.
Drug overdose deaths declined for the first time in nearly 30 years. The Department of Homeland Security is also working directly with many of the mayors in the cities, really, represented so brilliantly in this room, to remove dangerous criminals from your communities.
We have - ICE is taking out MS-13 gang members by the thousands - by the thousands. And we're bringing them back to where they came from. And we've had great cooperation from those countries - Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. Mexico has been terrific. Mexico has given us 27,000 soldiers at our southern border. And we're working really well with Mexico - best we've ever worked with Mexico.
When local police arrest a criminal, they run them through a federal database. If the criminal is found to be here illegally, ICE issues a detainer request. Honoring these detainers is vital to public safety, and we work with the mayors on that.
And we have some sanctuary cities represented also in the room. But it's been - it's been a very tough thing, working with the sanctuary cities. But sanctuary city policies that order police to ignore these federal detainers and release criminal aliens to the public - that's really a tremendous risk. The public is - you see the statistics; you see the numbers. And it's just -
One recent example: New York City arrested a criminal alien on assault charges. But, under city policy, they defied ICE's detainer request and released the violent criminal. After being freed by the city, the same criminal alien allegedly raped, brutalized, and murdered a 92-year-old woman on the streets of New York. This horrible crime - and there's so many others - was 100 percent preventable. They wanted to take this person - I'm being nice - take this person and bring them out and couldn't get them.
I urge all of you here today to cooperate fully with the federal enforcement. We're all on the same team. I think that's the biggest point is we're all on the same team. We want to have safety. And you - some have sanctuary cities, but even if you have sanctuary cities, we want to be able to work together because tremendous differences in crime numbers can happen. And it's been happening. And with some of the mayors in the room - and I'm friends with a lot of you; I know a lot of you - we've had incredible success.
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