For Immediate Release
President Bush Attends National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast
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And I thank you for making comprehensive immigration reform your top priority. I share that priority. These Senators share that priority. I appreciate the fact that you understand that this debate can be emotional, and it's complex. I appreciate the fact that you understand that members need to hear from you about where you think this country ought to go when it comes to immigration reform. There's a lot of emotion on this issue, and it makes sense to have people from around the country come and sit down with members of Congress to talk rationally about the issue.
Our responsibilities are straightforward -- we've got to enforce the border, basic duty of a sovereign nation. We've got to create a lawful way for foreign workers to fill jobs that Americans are not doing. Our economy depends on them. And we must resolve the status of illegal immigrants already in our country without amnesty and without animosity, because that is the only practical way to fix the problem that has been decades in the making. We must help new immigrants assimilate. That's what has always made our nation strong. People in America must have confidence in this country to help people assimilate.
Mel Martinez's parents put him on an airplane because they didn't want him raised in a tyrannical society on the island of Cuba, and here he now sits as a member of the United States Senate. I was deeply touched at the Coast Guard Academy, when I was sitting there as the Commander-in-Chief of a bunch of kids who just got bars on their shoulders, and the head of the class got up to speak, and he talked about his migrant grandfather; this Hispanic American started his speech to his classmates -- because I was there, there was a lot of cameras, maybe the country -- talking about his migrant grandfather. Isn't it a fabulous country where a migrant grandfather can come and have a dream and work hard, and there's his grandson talking about the promise of America in front of the President of the United States and his classmates. That's the beauty of America. (Applause.)
We must meet our moral obligation to treat newcomers with decency and show compassion to the vulnerable and exploited, because we're called to answer both the demands of justice and the call for mercy.
Most Americans agree on these principles. And now it's time for our elected leaders in Congress to act. You don't have to worry about these two Senators; they're acting, they're in the lead. Each day our nation fails to act, the problem only grows worse. I will continue to work closely with members of both parties, to get past our differences, and pass a bill I can sign this year. (Applause.)
One of the reasons that America leads the world is that we've always welcomed people who are determined to embrace our democracy and stand for freedom. We see that determination every day in the hundreds of thousands of Hispanic Americans who wear the uniform of the United States military.
Today we're joined by a group of Hispanic American soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I thank these brave men for stepping forward to protect our freedom. I join all of you in praying for their full recovery. And I'm honored to be their Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)
Our nation is blessed to call these men fellow Americans. We thank God for sending us such brave and selfless people. We ask that He give His -- give us the wisdom and grace to be worthy of the sacrifices they make, and the ideals of liberty they defend.
Thank you very much for letting me come by again. Y tambi n, que Dios les bendiga. Amen. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
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END 8:25 A.M. EDT