The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 15, 2006

Fact Sheet: Comprehensive Immigration Reform

     Fact sheet President Bush Addresses the Nation on Immigration Reform
     Fact sheet In Focus: Immigration
     Fact sheet en Español

Tonight, President Bush Discussed His Vision For Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The five clear objectives of comprehensive immigration reform are securing our borders, creating a temporary worker program, making it easier for employers to verify employment eligibility and continuing to hold them to account for the legal status of workers they hire, dealing with the millions of illegal immigrants who are already here, and honoring the great American tradition of the melting pot.

The President Believes America Can Be A Lawful Society And A Welcoming Society At The Same Time. We will fix the problem of illegal immigration, and we will deliver a system that is secure, orderly, and fair.

1. The United States Must Secure Its Borders

Securing Our Borders Is The Basic Responsibility Of A Sovereign Nation And An Urgent Requirement Of Our National Security. President Bush's proposals to better secure our borders include increasing the number of Border Patrol agents, using enhanced border security technology, ending the practice of "catch and release" along the southern border, eliminating bureaucratic obstacles to returning illegal immigrants to their home countries, and working with our Nation's Governors to send National Guard members to the border for temporary assignment to assist the Border Patrol during the transition as new Border Patrol agents are added and new technologies come online.

Since President Bush Took Office, We Have Increased Funding For Border Security By 66 Percent And Expanded The Border Patrol From About 9,000 To 12,000 Agents. Over the past five years, we have apprehended and sent home more than 6 million people entering America illegally.

The President's Secure Border Initiative (SBI) Is The Most Technologically Advanced Border Enforcement Initiative In American History. This year, we will begin a comprehensive program to construct high-tech fences in urban corridors and build new patrol roads and barriers in rural areas. We will employ motion sensors, infrared cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles to detect and prevent illegal crossings. We will better integrate our homeland security forces to dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our border security efforts.

President Bush Is Asking Congress For $327 Million To Help End The Policy Of "Catch And Release." More than 85 percent of the illegal immigrants apprehended at the southern border are from Mexico, and most are returned within 24 hours. For many years, government detention facilities did not have enough beds for many non-Mexican illegal immigrants caught at the border. As a result, most were released back into society. They were each assigned a court date, but the vast majority did not show up.

We Are Working Closely With State And Local Law Enforcement To Stop Illegal Immigration.

The United States And Mexico Are Engaging In Renewed Discussions On Collaborative Border Security And Safety Initiatives. The United States and Mexico have a shared interest in addressing violence against law enforcement personnel and innocent people and increased lawlessness that is occurring in some border areas.

President Bush Is Calling On Congress To Provide Funding For Improvements In Manpower And Technology And Better Collaboration With State And Local Law Enforcement Officials.

We Will Continue Expanding The Federal Government's Partnership With Border Counties And Targeted States. Targeted training and grant programs like the 287(g) program and Operation Stonegarden allow State and local law enforcement to assist the Border Patrol in helping the Federal government quickly expand border security efforts on a temporary basis.

To Help During This Period Of Transition And In Coordination With Governors, Up To 6,000 National Guard Members Will Be Sent To Our Southern Border. The Department of Homeland Security will remain in the lead. National Guard units will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads, and providing training. National Guard units deployed to our border will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities - that duty will be done by the Border Patrol.

The United States, Canada And Mexico Have A Common Border Security Workplan Under The Security Pillar Of The Security And Prosperity Partnership (SPP) Of North America. When the three leaders met in Cancun, Mexico, in March 2006, they committed to working together on a "North American Smart, Secure Borders Plan," which includes close coordination on screening of goods and people, collaboration and prioritization of border infrastructure and technology investment, and concerted law enforcement cooperation to respond to criminal or terrorist threats.

2. To Secure Our Border, We Must Create A Temporary Worker Program

President Bush Supports A Temporary Worker Program That Would Create A Legal Path For Foreign Workers To Enter Our Country In An Orderly Way, For A Limited Period Of Time. This program would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing. Every worker who applies for the program would be required to pass criminal background checks, and temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their authorized stay.

3. We Need To Hold Employers To Account For The Workers They Hire

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Include The Creation Of A New Identification Card For Every Legal Foreign Worker So Businesses Can Verify The Legal Status Of Their Employees. This card should use biometric technology to make it tamper-proof. A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law - and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. We will also work with Congress to expand "basic pilot" - an electronic employment verification system - and mandate that all employers use this system to quickly and accurately confirm work eligibility for all prospective employees. By making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place.

4. We Must Deal With The Millions Of Illegal Immigrants Who Are Already Here

Illegal Immigrants Should Not Be Given Amnesty. President Bush opposes amnesty and believes illegal immigrants should not be given an automatic path to citizenship because it would be unfair to those who are here lawfully and would invite further waves of illegal immigration. The President supports increasing the annual number of green cards that can lead to citizenship, but for the sake of justice and security, the President is firmly opposed to amnesty.

President Bush Believes That Deporting Every Illegal Immigrant Is Neither Wise Nor Realistic. There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program of mass deportation.

President Bush Believes Illegal Immigrants Who Have Roots in America And Who Want To Stay Should Have To Pay A Meaningful Penalty For Breaking The Law, Pay Their Taxes, Learn English, And Work In A Job For A Number Of Years. The President also believes that there are differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently - and someone who has worked here for many years, and has a home, a family, and an otherwise clean record. Those who meet our conditions should be able to apply for citizenship - but approval will not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law.

5. We Must Honor The Great American Tradition Of The Melting Pot

The Success Of Our Country Depends Upon Helping Newcomers Assimilate Into Our Society And Embracing Our Common Identity As Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language.

The House And Senate Must Pass A Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

All Elements Of This Problem Must Be Addressed Together - Or None Of Them Will Be Solved At All. The House has passed an immigration bill. The Senate should act by the end of this month - so that the House and Senate can work out their differences and send the President a comprehensive bill to sign.

America Needs To Conduct This Debate In A Reasoned And Respectful Tone. Feelings run deep on the matter of immigration - and as we work out this issue, all of us need to keep some things in mind. We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or playing on anyone's fears, or exploiting the issue of immigration for political gain. We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say.

# # #

Return to this article at:

Click to print this document