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The White House, President George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 22, 2004

President Discusses America’s Leadership in Global War on Terror
Remarks by the President on the War on Terror
Roswell Convention and Civic Center
Roswell, New Mexico

[ ... ]

Before I talk about how to make sure American workers are trained, I do want to bring up a subject that I had addressed in the State of the Union and before, that I think it's important for me to continue to clarify for the American people. We've got people doing jobs in America that Americans won't do. And that's helpful to our economy. It's helpful that there are some people that are willing to the do the work that others won't do. And I think we need to be honest about what's taking place in America. After all, we're a country of the rule of law. And we've got people breaking law. And the question is how best to bring what's happening to light in an honest and legal way.

My attitude is this: My attitude is, so long as there is a willing worker and an employer looking to hire somebody, we ought to have a system that allows for temporary work in America, in an honest, open way; in a way that talks to the values of our country. I oppose amnesty, loud and clear, because amnesty will encourage further illegal immigration; amnesty rewards somebody for breaking the law. On the other hand, I do want to change a system that has ignored reality and allow a willing employer to be matched with willing employee in an honest, open way.

We should not say to somebody who's working on a temporary worker basis, you get added -- you get a special break when it comes to citizenship. You don't. You don't get a special break. But think about a system that has people working in the shadows of America. That's not the American way. That's not the way we do business in this country. People are working and trying to put food on the table for a family in Mexico. You've got to understand why they're here. They're motivated out of the deep love of their children and their wife. They're working just as hard as any other mom or dad do for the same reason -- they have an obligation and a responsibility. Those people need to be treated with respect. They need to be honored for their commitment to their families. (Applause.)

A temporary worker plan that's honest and open will be good for this economy. It will also be good for the security of the country. We've got a lot of border patrol agents working hard to stop the flow of illegal immigration. I believe if we make the system open and honest, it will help stop the flow of illegal immigration. It will cut down on those coyotes that are putting people in the back of these trailers and driving them across incredibly hot desert. It will stop -- it will make sure that those who are working to secure our borders will focus on the true threats to America, the illegal drugs, or the contraband, or the potential terrorists that could be coming across our borders.

No, this plan makes sense. I call upon the Congress to do what is good for our economy, what is good for our security, and what is compassionate, and pass the temporary worker plan.

[ ... ]

[ End ]