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Cambodian-Americans Have Mixed Views on Trump State of the Union Address

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington,Feb. 5, 2019.

President Donald Trump gave his second annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, highlighting his successes as president over the past two years. Besides focusing on the sticking firmly to immigration issues, Trump raised many other issues, such as withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Russia, talks with North Korea, abolishing nuclear weapons, the withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan, “trade war” issues with China, employment and attracting US investors back home.

Cambodian-Americans who spoke to VOA Khmer expressed mixed views after the president's speech, with some feeling supported and satisfied with the issues raised and others disagreeing with some of the president's claims.

Schanley Kuch, a Cambodian-American from Maryland, told VOA Khmer that the annual presidential address was essential for the president to report to Congress and the nation about what the government does and what lies ahead.

But he said the speech was laden with rhetoric and untruths, citing, for example, allegations about the “influx” of immigrants along the US and Mexico border. In fact, he said, immigration was reported by the Department of Homeland Security to have decreased since 2012.

In addition, he raised the issue of withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan without consultation, leading to the defense secretary’s resignation, which Schanley considered a mistake.

"I regretted this last night, seeing what the American president says was lacking truth. He demonstrated the desire to have solidarity between the two major parties, Democrat and Republican, but he was sarcastic and against the Democratic Party as well. For example, saying that the American economy will be much more advanced if there is no hindrance from the Democrats.”

Muy Chamroeun, a Cambodian-American supporter of the president, said Trump was a “big thinker” who would not back down from confronting China on issues like trade.

“Trade has been successful. Every person has a job...the wall has to be built and in the next ten days if the Democrats do not help, he will declare a state of emergency,” he said.

He added that he supported Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from the Middle East.

Jannet Seng, a Cambodian-American from Pennsylvania, said while she was dissatisfied with certain aspects of the speech, such as the “wall”, promoting national unity could only be a good thing.

"The first thing that caught my eye most was that victory is not winning for my party, but winning for our country. It’s meaningful when I think about Cambodia. Success is not a success for any party. Success is a success if we work together to find solutions, to be successful for our nation.”