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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 12, 2005

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
James S. Brady Briefing Room

[ ... ]

Q Scott. Scott, the President has said he is opposed to illegal aliens getting driver's licenses, and he supports the REAL ID Act. But on the other hand, he says we need the cheap labor that these illegals provide. And my first question: Does he believe these cheap labor illegals should be confined to being bused rather than being able to drive even used cars?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, that immigrants --

Q Well, does he believe these cheap labor illegals that he says we need, should they be confined to being bused to their jobs, rather than being able to drive, even used cars?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I don't think that's the way the President has described it, first of all. The President -- in fact, this was one of the issues that came up in his discussion with the Central American leaders and the leader of the Dominican Republic that was here earlier today. They spent most of the time talking about the importance of getting the Central American Free Trade Agreement passed.

And you heard from the President in the Rose Garden about how this is a larger issue than just trade. This is about promoting democracy and freedom and stability and prosperity in our own hemisphere. And the Democrats that are trying to block efforts from moving forward on the Central American Free Trade Agreement are only hurting efforts in the hemisphere that will lead to stronger democracy. Many of these are emerging democracies that are new and young. And we need to do all we can to support them.

And then towards the end of their discussion, they talked a little bit about immigration. And the President talked about the importance of making sure we have a common-sense, rational immigration program. Right now we do not. There are some 8 million to 10 million undocumented workers in this country that are filling jobs that Americans are not. And there's also a great strain on our border because of that, that we need to address. We've done a lot to strengthen our border security.

But the proposal that the President put forward will not only match willing workers with willing employers and address an economic need, it will address a humanitarian need, and it will address a security need, as well, because it will free up our resources along the border to focus more on those people who shouldn't be coming to this country in the first place.

[ ... ]

[ End ]