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The White House, President George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
January 12, 2004

Interview of First Lady Laura Bush by Univision
The Diplomatic Reception Room
January 9, 2004

[ ... ]

Q In the minds of many of these First Ladies in this meeting will be your husband's, the President's, latest proposal for immigration. If you will, because this is an issue for millions of immigrant women in this country, if you put yourself in the position of an immigrant worker, a mother of two, she has two kids in school, she has two jobs, and her only goal is that these two kids receive an American education.

MRS. BUSH: A good education, sure.

Q Why would you register with the government for a temporary visa for three years if you might risk that, at the end of this you, all of you, might be deported?

MRS. BUSH: Well, actually, the temporary visas would be -- in the proposal, you could renew those visas. But there are a lot of reasons that you should register if this proposal is passed by the United States Congress. And that is, it protects you from exploitation. If you have suffered in any way, if you have been exploited in any way or a crime has been committed against you, you could go to the authorities. Which now, if you're illegal, you would feel like you couldn't go to the police because you would be deported.

It gives you the chance to go to your child's school and to be an advocate for your child at their school, and to not be afraid that somehow, when you went up to talk to the teacher, that you might have a chance of being turned in as an illegal.

All of those things really would protect women and men who are working in the United States. It gives you the chance to look for better working conditions. If there's anything about your working conditions that are bad, you can't complain about it now if you're illegal working in the United States.

So in many ways, my husband's proposal is very, very compassionate to -- with people, women and men, who are working in the United States but are illegal.

Q So your advice to the perhaps hundreds of thousands of women who are watching us is to go and register?

MRS. BUSH: Yes, that's right. Although this program is not set up. They can't do that yet. And it's going to require a lot of work with the United States Congress to get a program through like this. So, yes. But, yes, I would.

And I also really want to encourage women who are working in the United States, for whatever reason, if they're citizens, if they have a green card, if they're illegal, to be an advocate for their children in school, and to go up to their children's schools and to make sure they're helping their child in every way they can. Ask the child's teacher, what can I do to make sure my child gets a really good education?

[ ... ]

END 10:47 A.M. EST