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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 6, 2004

Press Conference of President Bush and Mexican President Fox
Prairie Chapel Ranch
Crawford, Texas

[ ... ]

We will work to ensure a system of safe and orderly migration. Earlier this year, I proposed a temporary worker program, not an amnesty program, that will offer legal status as temporary workers to undocumented men and women who were employed in the United States when I announced this proposal.

Under this program, America will also welcome workers from foreign countries who have been offered jobs by American employers that no American has filled. I oppose amnesty, placing undocumented workers on the automatic path to citizenship. This program will match willing workers with willing employers, without disadvantaging those who have followed the law and waited in line to achieve American citizenship.

This new temporary worker program will strengthen both the American and Mexican economies. The United States will benefit from the labor of hard-working immigrants. Mexico will benefit as productive citizens are able to return home with money to invest and spend in their nation's economy.

This system will be more humane to workers, who will be protected by labor laws and able to establish their identities. It will live up to the highest ideals of free nations.

[ ... ]

Immigration is a subject that is of shared responsibility between both our nations. But we have a shared definition about immigration. We have to work together to develop a legal system that is orderly and safe and respects the dignity of those involved. It is clear to us that the people who come to this country make a significant contribution to the American economy. And I underline the fact that I refer to those who are working to contribute to the economy.

And that is why we welcome President Bush's proposal that he made in January. And that is why, in our meetings, we worked to advance this proposal, and that's what we have been doing today. We welcome the news that was confirmed today with regard to visitors to the U.S. from Mexico. We recognize the value to those who come to the United States to work, to study, to contribute. And we appreciate what this will do to the flow of visitors now that they will not have to be photographed or fingerprinted at the frontier for short visits to the United States. We appreciate what that will do the flow of people coming to this country.

The other good news this year is the -- about the NAFTA visa for professionals, that allows professionals to come and work in either country and contribute to both.

We also appreciate the recent visit of Secretary Ridge, talking about the cooperation in security between our countries. And we understand that this is progressing well and we have a solid and good basis to move forward, always respecting the security issues that are essential to both countries. We have spoken about competition and productivity and jobs. In order to allow the initiative of the United States, together with Canada, this would allow us to protect jobs in the region, and through the North American Initiative, contribute to the economies and to the work force on both sides of the border.

[ ... ]

PRESIDENT BUSH: Vamos a ver. Vamos a ver. Go ahead, want to translate? To make sure I got all of it.

Q (Translation of previous question.) The question is on the immigration policy, the government of Mexico wanted to know what the date certain would be for this new program, or what proposals you have for temporary immigrants, and how do you believe it will affect the upcoming election process?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, we just -- the President just discussed the border crossing cards, the issue of the border crossing cards. And he discussed the professional visas. And so we're making progress.

I put forth what I think is a very reasonable proposal, and a humane proposal, one that is not amnesty but, in fact, recognizes that there are good, honorable, hard-working people here doing jobs Americans won't do. And I certainly hope the Congress takes this issue up. But there's no telling what's going to happen in an election year, so it's very difficult to give a date. The date that matters to me is the date in which I laid out what I think is a reasonable plan, which was in January.

[ ... ]

END 11:31 A.M. CST



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