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Remarks by the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney Followed by Question and Answer at a Coffee with Community Leaders
Hopper's Family Restaurant
Berrien Springs, Michigan

9:20 A.M. EDT

[ ... ]

And I'm glad that the President talked about immigration the other night. I agree with you that security is the number one issue in this campaign, but in my business a work force is, too, and that we rely, as with other industries, on Hispanic workers. So where is the balancing act in tightening up to keep the bad guys out, and also supplying a work force?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we think the two go hand-in-hand, that is to say that what we have today is a situation where we have a large number of immigrants coming into the country illegally -- some primarily for economic reasons, because they can make more money here than they can in Mexico or Central America, and that's a very strong driver. People want to take care of their families. But what has transpired in the past is we'd end up with a large number of folks in the country illegally. We don't know what they're doing while they're here. We don't know when they leave. And that's a great worry if, in fact, someplace hidden in that flow of illegal immigrants would be terrorists who mean to do us harm. So we've tried to tighten up on the borders in Mexico. We've done a much better job. We've beefed up our Border Patrol forces. We got new technology we've deployed down there to deal with it.

The President's suggestion -- I think it's a good one -- is that, in fact, what we ought to do is have a system to regularize that flow, that we ought to recognize there is going to be this flow of folks coming to the U.S. to try to work, that the way to deal with it is to make certain that there's a process by which people can come in and apply to come into the United States on a temporary basis, that they would be allowed to come for a job where there was a job -- somebody who wanted to hire them -- and where Americans weren't available to take that employment, and come here for a period of time, and then ultimately have to return back to their home country, but that it would allow a guest worker program. We've had a version of guest worker programs in the past in the West -- I know in California, in years past, to support American agriculture. And at the same time, it would regularize it in such a way so that we would know who is here. We'd know how long they were here. We'd know when they went back. And so you accomplish both your security objective, as well as your economic objective at the same time by having a system that's better organized than what we've got now. That's the suggestion that's been put forward. And the President has offered it up as a recommendation.

[ ... ]

[ End ]