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The White House, President George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 21, 2004

Remarks by the President in a Conversation on Job Training and the Economy
Mesa Community College
Phoenix, Arizona

4:06 P.M. MST

[ ... ]

Now, I'm going to talk about -- we'll talk about the new jobs of the 21st century. There are some old jobs, however, that are being filled by people from other countries. Let's be very frank about what I'm about to tell you. There are some jobs that employers are having trouble filling, because Americans don't want to do them. And, therefore, there are people from foreign countries coming to do the jobs.

There's a spirit of parenthood in everybody's heart, if you happen to be a mom or a dad. There's a deep desire for people to put food on the table to fulfill their obligations. And that's what's happening a lot when people come from countries like Mexico to work -- they're coming to make a living, and they're filling jobs that, frankly, others won't do. It seems like to me that we ought to have a policy that's open and honest about this phenomena. It's a policy that, in my judgment, should say, where there's a willing worker and a willing employer, those two ought to be matched up together in a legal way, so long as the employer can't find an American to do the job.

What I'm talking about is a temporary worker program that recognizes the reality of our economy. It's a temporary worker program that also says clearly, we're a land of rule of law, that having people in the shadows of our economy is not really the American way, is it? So what I want to do is to say, let's have it all legal, in this sense: You can come to our country for a period of time, so long as there's a job available for you.

Now, that doesn't mean there's automatic citizenship; quite the contrary. I strongly oppose what they call, amnesty, because all amnesty would do is invite more illegal immigration. All amnesty would do would say to those who are waiting in line in a legal way to become a citizen that legality -- being legal doesn't matter in America. It does matter. So what I wanted Congress to consider for certain kinds of jobs is to put out a temporary worker card; to get rid of all this business about people forging documents that put employers at risk; that say, for the period of time you're here you can go home and take money back without fear of being arrested. It's a humane way to approach citizens of the world. Imagine being a worker here, and you get abused, and you don't dare call the abuser to account, because you might get sent home and you can't do your job of making money for your family.

So that's what I call on Congress to do. It also is going to help our Border Patrol. It's essential for the security of this country that we have a legal system, so we don't have this terrible problem of coyotes smuggling these people across the hot Arizona or Texas deserts, making money off the system that has now developed in America. I think we ought to let the sunshine in, have a legal system, recognize realities. (Applause.)

[ ... ]

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[ End ]

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