|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 15, 2006
Press Briefing on the President's Speech on Immigration
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
President Bush Addresses the Nation on Immigration Reform
Fact Sheet: Overview: Comprehensive Immigration Reform
In Focus: Immigration
Tony Snow, Assistant to the President and Press Secretary
Dan Bartlett, Counselor to the President
Fran Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
Joel Kaplan, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
4:24 P.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: Quick note on the ground rules. This is an on-the-record briefing, but it is embargoed until the time of the delivery of the speech.
What we're going to do is Dan is going to give you an outline about how the speech came together and what the President hopes to accomplish; why the speech is being delivered now and the path forward. Fran, of course, will give an overview of border security. Joel, then, will talk about all the comprehensive portions of comprehensive reform, and he'll walk through temporary worker program, interior enforcement and the like.
With that, I'll hand it over to Dan.
MR. BARTLETT: The President decided almost a month ago that, strategically, this was going to be an important speech for him to deliver at the right time in the debate. We've been working on the speech for a couple weeks now. I can recall talking to him and talking to the speech writers during the California trip out West, when the President was out there for that weekend, already looking at language, working on the structure of the speech and looking at different concepts.
What was really the breakthrough, as far as timing, was last week's agreement between the leadership -- the Democrat and Republican leadership in the Senate to have the debate go forward. As you know, that starts this week, so on the eve of this debate we felt it was an important time for the President to articulate to the American people where he stands on the big issues, what are some other steps we can take on the key components of the President's strategy on comprehensive immigration reform.
The speech, itself, is broken down accordingly. First will be discussion about border security, which Fran will go into more detail about. The strategy remains the same, as far as having increased manpower complemented by vast improvements in our technological capability along the border. Like I said, Fran will go into some of the details about our long-term commitment to increasing our presence on the border, and then some immediate steps we're going to take as we build up those capabilities.
Secondly is the interior enforcement. You've heard the President talk considerably about this. This is a critical component of comprehensive reform, and to have effective enforcement. Right now we're putting many businesses in an untenable position to try to be verifiers of documents that are oftentimes forged. What the President will argue tonight and call for is tamper-proof cards and other measures to make sure that we can help employers verify the status of anybody who would be serving in a temporary worker program.
Then the onus not only comes on having a tamper-proof card, but also on -- it becomes incumbent upon employers to meet their requirements on the laws of the land.
Third, the President will argue the need for a temporary worker program. He will talk about how he views this in the context of how it can help better enforce our borders, how it can help bring a more rational system in which we match willing worker with willing employer. He will talk about the benefits that will come from such a plan of having a temporary worker program going forward.
He then will turn to the issue of the current illegal immigration population in our country, the 11 million or 12 million that are here. He will strongly state that he believes that an automatic path to citizenship is amnesty and it's something that he will vigorously oppose.
But he will also talk about really forging a rational middle ground when it comes to the specifics from it being illogical to think that we could massively deport 12 million illegal immigrants at one time; that we ought to have an approach that doesn't look at this as a monolithic population, but one in which there are realities we ought to take into consideration as we forge a piece of legislation to deal with the illegal immigrants that are already here. Fourth -- that is the fourth point.
And then fifth, he will talk about assimilation and the responsibilities of every citizen of our country and those who want to be citizens of our country, and that is basically the fact that you do have to meet the requirements of a citizen. That means learning English, assimilating, be law abiding, and other aspects of what has made America unique and the fact that people from all walks of life can come together under one fabric of the United States of America and do so in a way that we've out-performed any other country in the world when it comes to assimilation. And those are important values and principles that the President will articulate.
So those are the five components of the speech that he will articulate tonight. Right now we're looking at, roughly, 17 minutes in length. It could be a little more, a little less, but right now that looks about it at the point of delivery.
With that, to talk about some of the immediate long-term measures on the border security and short-term measures, I'll give it to Fran Townsend.
MS. TOWNSEND: Thanks, Dan. I'll break this into component pieces. First I'm going to talk about the Border Patrol. The President will talk about increasing the United States Border Patrol by 6,000 by the end of calendar year '08. Let me give you a little background and then break down those numbers for you.
Since the President took office, when the Border Patrol was roughly 9,000 agents, there's been a 66 percent increase thus far to -- by the end of September 2006, to 12,300, roughly. What this calls for is in fiscal year '07 an additional 2,500 agents; in fiscal year '08 another 3,000 agents; and then in the first quarter of fiscal year '09, which is the last part of the calendar year in '08, another 500. So that's a total increase of another 6,000 Border Patrol agents, which will basically double the size -- nearly double the size of the Border Patrol by the end of calendar year '08.
The National Guard: The President will talk about the deployment of up to 6,000 National Guardsmen to the border for a total of one year. Then over the course of the second year, there will be a scaling down of the number of National Guardsmen at the border as the Border Patrol begins to ramp up and they are able to deploy Border Patrol to the border.
Apprehensions and detention: During the course of the National Guard deployment, apprehensions and detention operations will continue to be conducted by Border Patrol. The National Guardsmen will be looked to for mission assignments, that is, mission assignments by the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of Defense in areas of their expertise. Think of things such as intelligence, surveillance and infrastructure. There will be a combination of both Guard deployments and contractors to fulfill those mission assignments, depending on the expertise that's required and available.
The National Guardsmen will be under the control of the receiving governor in the border state. That will need to be by the agreement of both the sending governor and the receiving governor, and how that -- where the people are pulled from will depend on where the expertise is and what the mission assignment -- what the mission requirement is, as determined by DHS.
The deployment of National Guardsmen will likely begin sometime in early June. The specific mission assignments the Department of Homeland Security is working on now, with their colleagues at DOD. They expect to have the first mission assignments available to DOD by Wednesday, and then DOD will be able to begin to process that and look for those most appropriate to fulfill those mission assignments.
Again, the National Guard forces will be working in coordination with Customs and Border Patrol, which will remain in the lead at the border. One of the byproducts, one of the natural consequences of the deployment of the 6,000 in the first year is -- one of the many -- is a freeing up of about 500 Border Patrol agents from what otherwise would have been administrative or away from the front line jobs, and they will be able to be redeployed to front line positions.
The National Guard Bureau and the state adjutants general will have to closely coordinate with Customs and Border Patrol, just as we've done -- just as they've done over the years in the counter narcotics mission.
Catch and release: The President tonight will be asking Congress for $327 million to help end the policy that's come to be known as catch and release. Most illegal immigrants apprehended at the border are from Mexico and can be returned within 24 hours. This will require additional -- ending of catch and release will require not only additional detention space, but will also require us working with Congress to ensure the appropriate legal authorities.
The President's fiscal year '06 budget funds an additional 1,900 beds for detention facilities in the United States. The supplemental budget request will ask for approximately 4,000 additional beds, which would be a 12 percent increase. The President's fiscal year '07 budget proposes increasing the number of detention beds in facilities by another 32 percent.
Now let me just break down bed numbers for you, because that's confusing enough for me. In fiscal year '05, there were 18,500 beds. Fiscal year '06 adds 2,300, which gives you, by the end of May '06, 20,800. Supplemental will propose 4,000 additional beds, which gives you by the end of fiscal year '06, 24,800. Fiscal year '07 requests an additional 2,700, which means by the end of fiscal year '07, there will be a total of 27,500 beds.
Last year, it took an average of 66 days to process non-Mexican illegal immigrants. The process is a result of the increased use of expedited removal. That process is now only taking 21 days.
Okay, the last segment of this. The President will speak about increasing partnership cooperation and leveraging state and local resources. That falls into two categories. First, what we refer to as 287G -- 287G of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes DHS to train state and local law enforcement officials in immigration enforcement so they can identify, process and begin removal proceedings for incarcerated aliens; 287G programs have already been established in Alabama, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, and California. The 287G program is roughly now about a $5.5 million program. The President will be requesting to raise this to a $50-million annual effort.
There will also be -- the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency will establish task forces to participate in the border enforcement and security task forces, document and benefit fraud task forces, and human trafficking task forces. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is projecting to train approximately 1,500 additional state and local law enforcement officers, using this 287G delegation of authority program.
Stonegarden is the other piece to this leverage in state and local capabilities. On January of 2006, DHS announced the expansion of Operation Stonegarden to give states additional flexibility to strengthen border security, working in coordination with DHS. Approximately $20 million is available for Operation Stonegarden in fiscal year 2006, and we will be seeking $15 million in supplemental funds to expand the Operation Stonegarden as a result of the President's speech.
Operation Stonegarden provides grants for overtime and travel expenses, allowing local, state and tribal law enforcement agencies to increase manpower required for area-specific operations. Again, this would be state and local law enforcement acting in coordination and consultation with Customs and Border Patrol, not independently.
And with that, I'll turn it over to --
MR. BARTLETT: Just to put one point -- to put some of this substance in the context of the speech. The way the President will depict this in the speech is obviously talk about the record of accomplishment of what we have so far: the dramatic increase, 66 percent increase in funding for Border Patrol and border security efforts; the fact that when we increase by an additional 6,000 -- as he proposes tonight -- will have more than doubled the number of agents during his presidency.
But he'll acknowledge in this speech that that hasn't been enough to secure the borders and that these additional steps must be taken. And it's during this interim period of the 6,000 being trained that we're going to use the immediate measures of the Guard and these two provisions of tapping into state and local resources through both the 287G, as well as the Stonegarden operations that have been announced.
So that's how he'll depict it, is the long-term commitment and sustained commitment of border security will be the training up of these additional 6,000 Border agents, and then these two other -- these other provisions are kind of the immediate steps to fill the transition until we get to that strength.
MS. TOWNSEND: Yes, it should be clear that this is not intended as a militarization of the border. We work cooperatively with Mexico; the Department of Homeland Security, in particular, works very well with Mexican enforcement officials. This is intended for us to take additional measures to strengthen our border enforcement effort while we continue to ramp up, frankly, at an unprecedented level the through-put in training Customs and Border Patrol agents.
MR. KAPLAN: The President will go into the elements of the border security portion of a comprehensive immigration proposal at the outset, but he'll also make clear that you have to address all of the aspects of the immigration problem in order to be effective. So after he talks about the steps we're taking on border security, he will move into talking about the second objective, which is to create a temporary worker program. This is particularly important because you need a temporary worker program as an essential steam valve that will relieve pressure on the borders.
America is a rich country and our neighbors are not as well-off, and you've got a large supply of labor that is willing to take extraordinary risks today to come into this country and that puts tremendous pressure on the borders. So a temporary worker program that allows -- that matches willing foreign workers with willing employers for jobs that Americans are not doing is an essential portion of the plan that works in a mutually reinforcing way with the security measures that Fran talked about.
In the temporary worker program, the President will also make clear it is intended to be a temporary worker program. At the end of -- at the conclusion of their stay in this country, the temporary worker programs who come in through the program must return home.
The next element of the comprehensive plan that the President will talk about is the need to hold employers to account for the workers that they hire. Dan talked about the need for a tamper-proof biometric identity card for every legal foreign worker. And the President will also talk about the need to improve the efforts for employers to verify eligibility of workers. So we'll be expanding -- comprehensive immigration reform will expand on the basic pilot in place now to make sure that employers have an efficient way of verifying that the workers that they hire are here as part of the temporary worker program and are not here illegally.
Once we have these systems in place, it will remove an excuse from workers for -- excuse me, an excuse from employers for violating the law. And that's an important part of making sure that we have an effective, comprehensive system in place.
The next element the President will talk about, as Dan mentioned, is facing the reality of the millions of illegal immigrants who are already here in this country. There are some who argue that anything short of a mass deportation of these illegal immigrants is amnesty. The President does not believe that.
At the same time, he does not believe that every illegal immigrant here ought to have an automatic path to citizenship. As Dan mentioned, he believes there's a rational middle ground. That rational middle ground recognizes that there are differences between someone -- an illegal immigrant who showed up very recently, and someone who's been here a long time, has put down roots, has a family, has a job. He also believes that it's important to recognize -- that it's important to make sure that those who apply for citizenship in this country pay a meaningful penalty before they do so, that they pay their taxes, that they learn English, and demonstrate good character and good citizenship.
The last issue, which relates to that good citizenship -- or the character to be a good citizen relates to making sure that our immigration system reflects the important principles of assimilation that have made this country great; that he wants to make sure that our immigration system encourages the principles of a melting pot; that everybody who comes to this country wants to become a fully functioning part of our society, learns English, and supports the principles that have made this country great.
MR. BARTLETT: Do you want to touch generally on the budget process?
MR. KAPLAN: Dan asked if I would touch on the budget process -- he's trying to drag me back into my old job at OMB -- which I'll be happy to do.
There's a supplemental bill, as most of you know, pending in the Congress. The Senate version of the supplemental included $1.9 billion for border security. The border security measures that Fran laid out we expect to work with the Congress to try to direct that $1.9 billion into these measures, which we think are the most effective measures that can be taken in the near-term to dramatically increase our border security.
So we'll be working with the appropriators, the leadership in Congress over the next couple weeks to try to make sure that that supplemental bill, within the top line, $92.2 billion, plus pandemic funding, within that top line accommodates the necessary measures that Fran laid out for border security.
MR. SNOW: Okay, let me make a couple of quick comments about politics, and then we'll do questions, because there's a lot of speculation that the President is doing this simply to mollify the Republican base.
This is an act of leadership. The fact is, the President is going to give a speech that is based on what he thinks is important, and these are his real passions. If he wanted simply to give a speech to mollify any given voting block, it would be a much different kind of speech. Instead what he's -- you've heard him talk about this in the past. He has very strong passions about it.
As far as politics, as I said in the gaggle this morning, good policy is good politics. Leadership is also good politics. When somebody stands up and says, this is what I believe; I'm going to enter the debate now, the debate on which both parties are divided internally, on which both parties have big differences, on which passions run very high, sometimes it might be seen as politically safe to stand aside and let the tempest go by. But instead, what the President has said is, no, I want to have -- I want to tell the American people where I stand on this debate at precisely the moment where it can have an impact. And that is the impact as the Senate gets ready to debate and pass an immigration measure that will move on to conference.
So for those -- this is not a simple political play. Immigration is a whole complex of issues. One other thing is that the President has also rejected the notion, well, do one thing first and then we'll do other things later, because he understands that if you don't do it all at once things fall apart.
Immigration is not one issue, it is a series of issues. It has issues of national security, of the economy, and also what kind of country we are, what we say to people who want to share in the American Dream. The President addresses all of those parts knowing that if you do one, the temptation is going to be to sweep the others under the rug and leave them untouched for one, two, five, 10 years and let pressures build again. As tough as this is, this is a way of addressing all of the points not only of conflict, but also opportunity when it comes to immigration. And that's the reason he's delivering the speech.
Q I have a question about the politics, Tony. If you're talking about leadership, the reality is that this President campaigned on this issue in 2000, talking about a temporary guest worker program. And then fast-forward to tonight, he is, indeed, mollifying conservatives by talking about sending National Guard troops down to the border. That's a huge tactical change, is it not? And does it not reflect the fact that the politics has turned around on this for him?
MR. SNOW: As I said this morning, David -- I know you weren't there, but I think you've read the gaggle notes -- what the President is doing -- one of the things he's done is he listened to people on the issue. It is an issue of enormous passion, as perhaps you've noticed. We have seen this not only with large demonstrations in the streets, we've also seen it with Minutemen. This is an issue that has also changed since the year 2000.
What was for many people sort of a passing concern in 2000 is now the number one concern in the year 2006. It has become a matter of considerable urgency for a lot of people. It is also a time -- in the year 2000, or 2001, upon taking office -- I don't know whether the President could have gotten Congress to act then or not. I just don't know. But it is pretty clear that not only the passions, but the sense of urgency, are considerably different than they were back then, and therefore, the opportunity to do things in a comprehensive manner is far greater than it was then.
MR. BARTLETT: I'd also say, at that time, at looking at his background and history on this issue, when he was governor of Texas and had served in the governor's office with him at the time, there was an emphasis and a priority of this President on border security. I remember traveling with him to El Paso, Texas and witnessing what was called then Operation Hold the Line.
The fact of the matter -- what he'll talk about is a record of accomplishment. We've had a 66 percent increase on border security funding during the course of his tenure. Now that reflects a President who understands that border security is a priority, as well. Obviously, the temporary worker program has always gotten the most attention because it has the controversy and politics around it. But border security has been something that he's been committed to. These additional steps are ones in which, as Tony described, are ones that are based on where we are in the debate and listening to people who feel very passionate and very sincere feelings on border security.
Q Can you break out the numbers with more specificity beyond the $1.9 billion in the Senate sup? Give us -- sort of compartmentalize it, how it's going to break out dollar-wise.
Q And does the Guard come out of that -- the cost come out of that $1.9 billion, for example?
MR. BARTLETT: Yes.
Q It goes to the states, to pay the Guard?
MS. TOWNSEND: By and large, it's our -- well, many of the details of the deployment will have to be worked out based on mission assignments. It's our intention that many of the deployments will be able to be done inside the two or three weeks of the required annual training. And so that should not assume additional costs and should be able to be paid for inside the $1.9 billion.
Do you have a question.
Q A question related to that. Did the 6,000 number come first? Because it sounds like the mission assignments are all going to be married to the number you already predetermined. Which came first? The need or the number?
MS. TOWNSEND: The need. This is -- as Dan noted, this has been an ongoing concern and gotten ongoing attention from the President. There have been -- there's an ongoing dialogue between DHS and DOD and the precise number and timing of those deployments will be based on mission assignments and the requirements. What we're saying is it's up to 6,000 for the first year, and then we will reduce that overall number over the -- after that.
Q Dan, the President, when it came to No Child Left Behind, ridiculed people who judged a program by inputs. He said you must judge a program not by how much money you spend on education, but by what you get out of it. But you're doing exactly this here. You're saying we're spending more on Border Patrol, and what people out at the grassroots are asking is, show us some evidence that what you're doing works. What are you offering as evidence that what you're doing works?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, he will use a very powerful figure in the speech tonight. During his presidency, we've denied 6 million people -- apprehended and returned back 6 million people. That is what our efforts and the increased Border Patrol funding and agents have resulted in. We've also, as Fran pointed out, cut the time it has taken for us to deport those who are what's called OTMs, other than Mexicans, that have to go to other countries. We've cut that administrative time almost in half. So there are tangible benefits and results based on the investments we've made to date.
The question is, or the point that the President will make is, we can and must do more; these additional resources and dollars will get additional results. So it is very similar.
Q But what you're hearing from the grassroots, though, is what you're talking about is the increase is less than it might have been otherwise. But people are still seeing a flood. And what you're hearing from a lot of people and what you see in a lot of in the polling is that people want proof the border is secure before they want to talk about anything else. Why can't you make some kind of proposal like that?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, I think that is the most important point about this debate, is that the idea that they can all be solved just by putting focus on the border is something the President takes issue with. He is making the argument that a temporary worker program is an integral part of solving the border enforcement issue. The more people you have coming across a bridge, through a rational system, that we know who is coming across, the less people that are trying to go over fences or go through the back of an 18 wheeler. It's the very point he's going to make, is that you can't do this piecemeal. The only way you can rationally solve our border enforcement problem is to have a rational guest worker program.
Q On the National Guard, did I hear right, they're going to -- each Guardsman is going to be there for three or four weeks, by training?
MS. TOWNSEND: Their annual training requirement is two to three weeks. And so what you will do is you will, at any one time -- 6,000 represents about 2 percent of the overall strength of the National Guard. It won't be the same 6,000 people there for 12 months, it -- as I said, it will depend on mission assignments. But what you will do is, during -- that 6,000, at any one time, will be comprised of individual Guardsmen doing their annual training requirement.
Q They have two weeks -- are they going to have any special training to do this? I mean, you're going to just -- instead of having their regular training, you're going to send them to the border, and say, hey, do the border now?
MS. TOWNSEND: I'd like you to focus back on what I said in my initial comments, and that is, you're not going to have Guardsmen at the border doing apprehensions, detentions and returns. That's not what they're going there to do. They will go there based on mission assignments like intelligence, surveillance, infrastructure building. That will free up Border Patrol agents, who are the nation's premier experts on apprehensions and detentions to focus on that work. And so what -- you're playing to everybody's strength and expertise. It's not as though they're being -- they're being assigned down to the border in the area in which they are trained and do have expertise.
MR. BARTLETT: I do want to say for the record, of my personal pre-No Child Left Behind schooling, I said 2 percent to 3 percent this morning on the morning shows, which generated a much larger number. Math was never my strong point.
Q Fran, could you explain how -- did you say that states will be asked to provide these folks? The states will be sort of sending governors and receiving governors. How do you pick the sending governors? Do they have to send them? Are they required to send them? And is this all going to be paid for through this $1.9 billion? Will states have any additional costs?
MS. TOWNSEND: The National Guard -- the federal government will pay for it, and they will be Title 32 National Guard troops. It will be an agreement -- the way this is typically handled is between a memorandum of understanding between the sending governor and the receiving governor. The receiving governor then has operational control, just as you would imagine, commander-in-chief within their state.
The sending state retains what we would call administrative control over them. It's sort of the paperwork end of things. And so we will make these -- the National Guard Bureau under General Blum has the best view into where the expertise among the different Guard units are, where their training has been, and what best Guard -- what Guard units best fit the mission requirements set by DHS. And so it's coordination among the National Guard, the governors and the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense.
MR. BARTLETT: I would just add -- and I'm not an expert on this, but I play one -- you would think a default approach also would be as the border state governors' National Guard units, if they have those capabilities in the state, we just reimburse New Mexico, Arizona, et cetera. You at first, obviously, look at the proximity issue. But if it gets to an issue of where you're looking at needs versus if you have an engineering unit in another part of the country that can bring to bear resources and expertise, or expertise on high fencing, or building -- or sensors or something like that, then you're going to bring them in.
Q What if the governor in a state like that -- if you identify a unit with the expertise, can the governor say, no, I can't afford to send them?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, we will take the price tag issue off the table for them, and we're also looking at manpower issue to make sure they'll be able to reach their core mission of whether it be their contribution to the war on terror, or preparedness -- or natural disaster preparedness.
Q But can a sending governors say "no"?
MR. BARTLETT: Sure.
MS. TOWNSEND: Yes. This is predicated on the agreement between the sending and the receiving governor.
Q So they're not being federalized?
MS. TOWNSEND: No, that's correct. They are not being federalized.
MR. SNOW: The governors still serve as commanders-in-chief of their own National Guards.
Q What if the receiving governor doesn't want them?
MR. SNOW: The receiving governor has to ask for them.
MR. BARTLETT: We're going to coordinate with those governor's offices. I think many of the concerns we've heard from governors when it comes to having such an arrangement is the price tag, that they didn't want to incur those costs at the state level. By the federal government taking that burden off of them, we believe that they'll be more open to it. But, obviously, there will be a lot of discussions in the days and weeks ahead to work out all the details that -- some of the questions you're asking -- with those respective commanders-in-chiefs of those Guard units.
Q Dan, as the debate began, Harry Reid said the President must denounce the House bill. Is the President prepared to, or does he resent these sort of markers being put down?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, I think what the President has articulated that denouncements and finger-pointing and opposition to has not been his approach on this issue, and if we're going to get something done on this issue it has to build more from consensus. As we have said all along, our legislative strategy is to continue to try to move this process forward. Does that mean that we endorse very crossed T or dotted I either in the House or the Senate legislation that's now moving? No. But what it does say is we want this process -- much like on Medicare and other issues -- to be reconciled in the two chambers so we can get into a conference and try to work out the differences between the two.
Q Do any of these efforts apply to the Canadian border, or is this exclusively the Mexican border we're talking about?
MS. TOWNSEND: The focus of the entire initiative has been the Southwest border, but we remain open, if there are governors interested along the Northern border -- there's no, by necessity, limitation. And we remain open and working with those governors.
Q How much out of the federal treasury is going to pay for the 6,000 Guardsmen? You spoke of it coming out of the $1.9 billion -- how much of that would be Guard?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, there's too many variables at this point. We're talking to Congress right now and including the appropriators; I think it's more appropriate for us to allow those briefings to go forward. We'll have information for you after the President's speech.
MR. KAPLAN: But we do envision the -- it comes out of -- the $1.9 billion will cover the '06 and '07 costs assumed for the National Guard deployment -- fiscal year '06 and fiscal year '07 costs.
Q You're talking about providing legal status to most of the 600,000 or so people who are added to our illegal population every year. Making them legal, though, does not solve the problems at the local level caused by the presence of so many people at the bottom rungs of our economy. Schools, hospitals, neighborhood effect, that sort of thing. Does the President see a larger federal role in that effort, at least in terms of funding for the local entities?
MR. KAPLAN: Well, first of all, for almost all social services that individuals receive, particularly low-income individuals receive, the federal government does have a role, and the federal government will continue to fulfill that role.
MR. BARTLETT: And I'd also argue by having a rational system in place where people are actually paying taxes into the system and being good citizens that are contributing to society, just not from their employment, but also by, like I said, paying taxes, that does ease the burden on local communities, local hospitals, the schools --
MR. KAPLAN: That's true, as well, with Medicare and Social Security. A lot of the people you're talking about who will come through a temporary worker program are younger, able-bodied, working individuals, and that actually helps relieve some pressure on some of the bigger entitlement programs.
Q What is the $1.9 billion currently allocated for?
MR. KAPLAN: This was an amendment that I think was sponsored by Senator Gregg, and largely, it goes towards capital assets. It also includes $600 million for the Coast Guard recapitalization. We think, obviously, that we've got a good approach for how to most effectively spend that money to secure the border and we're going to be working with Senator Gregg and other members of Congress as they proceed through conference on the supplemental.
Q Let me ask you something about that, following up on that. You know, that money, if I remember correctly, was all supposed to be used for things like UAVs, because the only one that they had crashed two weeks ago. And so you're going to have a real competition for the same purpose, right? I mean, have you gotten these appropriators and budget chairmen to agree to this proposed budget that you have?
MR. KAPLAN: We've had some conversations. That's something that we'll -- I mean, they're in conference and we'll work with them on it. There is some overlap and there is -- some of the $1.9 billion that we would propose does include some capital assets and some tactical infrastructure that will help leverage these increased manpower assets. But it's something we're going to work on with the senators and the representatives. And I think at the end of the day they'll agree that the President puts forward a very effective approach to maximizing our security on the border.
Q If these National Guard troops aren't involved in apprehension, will they still be armed?
MS. TOWNSEND: I'm sorry?
Q Will the Guard troops still be armed on the border?
MS. TOWNSEND: The Guard -- again, I come back to, you're not going to see Guardsmen on the border doing apprehensions. Troops who are deployed will be armed, as they normally would be, and will have the right of self defense. But that's not what they're -- if you're on the border, and you're building tactical infrastructure, they will obviously be armed, and they're trained to use those arms, but that is -- the purpose of that is not to do apprehensions and detentions.
Q Why not, because legally they are allowed to, I understand, if they're under state control, is that right?
MS. TOWNSEND: You're getting into the notion of the National Guardsmen who got MP training are able -- are not restricted by posse comitatus?
MS. TOWNSEND: Yes. The decision was the best use -- this was based on the conversations between DHS and DOD, including the Border Patrol -- the best use of the Guard was to have the Border Patrol focused on apprehensions and detentions, and have the National Guard bring that expertise that they could free more Border Patrol agents up to do that.
MR. BARTLETT: And the President says in the speech that we're not militarizing our border. And that's an important policy point, as well.
MR. SNOW: There's a further point, too, which is if you're trying to do a long-term solution to this, what you do is you train up people who are going to do this for a living, rather than National Guardsmen who will be rotating in and out; therefore you develop a permanent cadre of people whose full-time job it is to do border enforcement.
Q So I'm trying to get an idea of how limited or extensive this National Guard deployment will be. Fran, you said up to 6,000 for the first year, we'll reduce that overall -- the overall numbers after that. So are we saying two, three years down the road then we will no longer need the National Guard on the borders? What is the picture of success at the end, when it comes to just the deployment of the Guard?
MS. TOWNSEND: For planning purposes, what we're looking at is 6,000 in the -- not more than 6,000 for a year, and then not more than 3,000 for the second year, for not more than 12 months. That's the second 12 months. The idea is, by the end of that period of time, you've got the 6,000 additional Border Patrol agents trained and ready to deploy. And so this is a bridge strategy, if you will.
Q Two years only?
MS. TOWNSEND: Right. The notion is -- that's right -- is to have a bridge strategy while you're training up the experts, and the full-time, permanent cadre who will do the enforcement.
Q Fran, you said all 6,000 would be on their training stints, or just some portion of it?
MS. TOWNSEND: The hope is that you can do, by and large, it with the training stints, the annual training obligation of National Guardsmen. Obviously, depending on what expertise is required, it may not be able to do the whole thing that way, but that is the planning assumption going in, is to be able to do most of it that way.
Q But that means you've got people rotating in and out every three weeks.
MR. BARTLETT: Which is something that the Guard does routinely. There's guys who rotate in and out of doing work in the war on terror overseas for three weeks. This is a highly-coordinated, synchronized system. That's one role that the National Guard at the bureau level can help coordinate and play, to rotate people in and out based on need and based on capability.
MR. KAPLAN: There's also a fairly long-standing practice of doing this on the Southern border. I think over the last -- I'm not sure how many -- almost 20 years, they've been doing this in counternarcotic enforcement, working with the Border Patrol. So the Border Patrol is very comfortable with this, and knows how to deploy the National Guard for these purposes.
Q You're making the argument that you've got 6,000 people rotating every two or three weeks, trying to accomplish jobs to assist the Border Patrol? Hello? I mean, can this really work?
MR. BARTLETT: Hello? Yes. (Laughter.) Bill, this is a highly-sophisticated enterprise, but that's what they deploy themselves to do. I mean, we do bombing rotations from Missouri all the way to the Middle East and back. They do have the --
Q For three weeks?
MR. BARTLETT: What?
Q For three weeks?
MR. BARTLETT: They do them on a nightly basis. There is a capacity and a capability, and really the role -- when you talk about, what's the role of the federal government when you have various states doing compacts together, is the Guard, as she said -- that General Blum and those can look at the national assets and help with the logistics to moving rotations in and out on a very routine basis. And it's something that they're very good at doing.
Right now, for example, sometimes annual training done by Texas Guard units, they go to Arkansas, they go to other states. It's something they're familiar with. Now are we increasing the tempo and the scope of it? Yes, but it can be done.
Q So you're talking about 100,000 or more individuals who will rotate through that duty over the course of two years, right?
MS. TOWNSEND: That's right. If you do the math, it works out to be -- if you look at the total strength of the Guard, which is between 440,000 and 450,000, you figure 6,000 people, which is 2 percent of the Guard. If you assume nobody winds up there more than once, it could be a maximum of 156,000 Guardsmen rotating through the southwest border assignment during this period.
Q Has any governor said, not our troops?
MS. TOWNSEND: There have been discussions with the states at a staff level. We're going to have to work with -- and we look forward to working with the governors to make sure that we understand what their needs are --
Q But there have been some objections from governors?
MS. TOWNSEND: No, I didn't say that there have been objections; I'm not aware of them. There have been discussions at a staff level.
MR. KAPLAN: I think people, generally, without knowledge of the facts, have raised concerns about manpower strengths. And I think as we walk them through how these -- how the objectives can be met without straining their capacity to respond to natural disasters and things like that, we believe most governors will be reassured by that.
Q You said the President supports this, sort of, notion that an illegal immigrant who has been here five years should be treated differently than an illegal immigrant who has been here one year. Can you talk about the philosophical underpinnings of basically saying, I stole your car five years ago, but I haven't gotten a speeding ticket since, and I should be treated differently than if I stole it six months ago?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, I don't know where you got five years, but I --
Q The Senate has talked about that, if you --
MR. BARTLETT: They talked --
Q Five years, but he said the longer that someone has been here --
MR. KAPLAN: I assume that the rational middle ground should recognize that there are differences between someone who has been here recently and someone who has been here a long time and who has built a home and a family and has contributed to our society.
MR. SNOW: Let's get to your analogy for a moment, because you said I stole your car five years ago and I did now. You know, this program, number one, the President says there's not going to be amnesty. In other words, for those who have come here illegally, you're going to find you've got some tax obligations, you've got to keep your nose clean, you've got to keep working. It is not simply -- you know, amnesty means, hey, all is forgiven, go about -- go at it as you were.
You've got at least four separate requirements here, and one can say that there is a difference between somebody who has held a job, paid taxes, obeyed the law, contributed to Social Security, and done those for an extended period of time as opposed to somebody who came over two weeks ago. But where you draw the lines, we will -- that's an issue to be decided. But the point is, I think one can make the argument to somebody who has stayed here -- to use a Clintonian phrase -- has worked hard and played by the rules, that is something where people say to themselves, okay, there may be differences.
Q But you said it's not amnesty. If it's not amnesty -- they have to have not done anything illegal, but it is amnesty for the fact they did something illegal --
MR. SNOW: It's a funny kind of amnesty where this is a misdemeanor. This is a misdemeanor where you can get a stiff fine, where you're going to pay taxes, where you're going to go to the back of the line if you want to become a citizen. If you break the law, you're out. You've got to hold a job continuously. That is probably stiffer than any similar set of circumstances one can think of.
Amnesty -- 1986, or whatever -- amnesty is, we forget about it, everybody stay. We'll start all over.
Q But didn't they break the law by coming here?
MR. KAPLAN: And they'll pay their obligation to society.
MR. SNOW: Yes, you pay a fine for breaking the law.
Q You all are making this argument, but as you know there's a good many Republicans who are saying -- who take the argument, but say it's still a question of how long ago did you break the law to come into this country. So I understand the argument you're making, but you're up against -- particularly House Republicans -- who are saying, sorry, no deal here, this is a non-starter. So how do you overcome that? I know the argument.
MR. SNOW: Well, the political process is going to have to work its way out. But I think what the President is trying to do is to insert a little bit of precision in the use of the term amnesty. There is a significant difference. We've already pointed out the benchmarks that people are going to have to surmount if they want to become eligible to be citizens. I mean, this gives them an opportunity to stand in line for, what, a dozen years.
Q Can you be specific about what fine, how long, how many guest workers?
MR. SNOW: No.
MR. BARTLETT: That's part of the negotiations --
Q None of that is going to be laid out tonight?
MR. BARTLETT: The specific level of fines? No.
Q After all, we all have had -- I think every newspaper in this country has had a letter to the editor from someone who said, it's laughable when you talk about $1,000 or $2,000 fine. I paid more than that to come here illegally. Where do I go to get a refund?
MR. BARTLETT: But see, you're also suggesting that that fine is going to pay for citizenship, which is not the case. In fact, they have to go through all of the rigamarole that somebody who did it through the legal process, they're going to have to do that. They don't jump to the front of the line. They don't get special privileges because they paid a fine. That's just to get clean. That's just to get good.
Then they have to step to the back of the line and meet all the requirements for a green card, for citizenship. They're not getting any sort of preferential treatment. In fact, not only do they go to the back of the line, they go to the back of the line with additional penalties in back -- in the taxes, in the fines. And those type of specific elements of how much those fines would be are a part of the negotiation during a conference.
Q Do they have to leave the country?
Q -- penalties are not rough. Why draw a line, then? If it's that tough, shouldn't that be tough enough for those people who have been here less than two years, as well?
MR. BARTLETT: That the --
Q If what you're saying is true, that this is not amnesty that you're doing for those who have been here -- Hagel-Martinez bill, those who've been here five years or two years, depending on which of those categories -- if that's true that that's not amnesty and those penalties are pretty tough on those folks, why draw the line at all? Why not anybody who's here illegally pays those tough --
MR. BARTLETT: There are other requirements we're talking about, what Tony also talked about would be contributing to society, has a job, has those things, has children that are in school here who are probably legal themselves. There's other mitigating factors in addition to that, which you wouldn't find in somebody who had just gotten here in the last six months or so, and somebody who has deep roots here and has been here for 15, 20 years.
Q Just to follow up on the northern border, what, in the speech or in this plan about the Canada-U.S. border?
MR. BARTLETT: This is specific to the southern border, and that's -- this speech will be exclusive to that.
Q -- National Guard troops, would they go regardless of what happens with the immigration bill on the Hill? Other than the supplemental -- obviously, you need the money -- but does he need any congressional authority for this?
MR. BARTLETT: No.
Q So this is going ahead regardless of what happens with the guest worker program?
MS. TOWNSEND: It's the agreement between the governors.
Q What does it mean to end catch and release? What do you do with these people once they're going to be detained in these additional beds? Do you prosecute them? Do you find some other way to deal with them?
MS. TOWNSEND: It depends on the circumstances. I can't answer that as a general matter. You either prosecute them or you return them. We put pressure on countries like China and India to accept back their citizens who have entered here illegally.
Q Can you talk about these Mexicans --
MR. BARTLETT: There are some factors that also have -- there are some legal treaty obligations -- El Salvador, some other things, that have to be -- that's what we're talking about, congressional authority. You have -- there is still a logistical problem of -- it's just -- instead of somebody kind of bused across back, you've got to put them on planes and do that. So that's why it takes so long to deal with them. But if there's -- there are crimes committed, and things like that, it obviously will be --
Q The ones that are being processing in 24-hours now, that come over the border from Mexico, that you were talking about before, what's going to happen instead of being brought back within 24-hours?
MR. KAPLAN: Catch and release doesn't refer to Mexicans, it refers to other than Mexicans.
Q Okay, so does it change what happens to the people from Mexico?
MR. BARTLETT: No. We're moving them -- taking them back on an average in 24-hours.
Q So that continues?
MS. TOWNSEND: Yes.
MR. BARTLETT: Hopefully.
Q The Heritage Foundation analyzed the bill that's on the Senate floor and came up with a statistic that in the next 20 years, you're talking about 100 million illegal immigrants coming into the United States, which would have a profound challenge to assimilation and really change the culture of this country. And I was wondering if the White House has a position as to, you know, what is the ballpark of how many legal immigrants we should be accepting in the next 20 years, 10 years, five years?
MR. KAPLAN: How many legal immigrants?
MR. KAPLAN: I think that that's also something that needs to be worked out in the context of the conference between the House and Senate, where I think the idea is to let the Senate act. Obviously, they've got some numbers in their bill, but that will be something that we'll want to engage in when it gets into the conference situation.
The Heritage Report, I have not read it. First of all, it's analyzing a bill that's on the Senate floor, which we're not -- we're talking about getting into conference and negotiating a bill, so I'm not sure whether the Senate bill is the right benchmark.
I understand there may be some double counting going on in the analysis in that bill -- excuse me, in that report from Heritage, but again, I have not --
MR. SNOW: We've got some people looking through --
MR. KAPLAN: We've got people looking at it, but it's -- but at the end of the day, you also have to look at the points that Dan made earlier on a similar question, is that these are people who will be paying taxes and contributing as workers in our society, and we'll also be mitigating some of the drains on Social Security and Medicare because they'll be paying in as workers.
MR. SNOW: Okay, I want to do two more people we haven't heard from.
Q Children of guest workers born in the U.S., are they automatic citizens?
MR. BARTLETT: -- get back --
Q It's in the Constitution. They haven't got a choice, it's in the Constitution.
Q This won't affect at all?
MR. BARTLETT: Yes. No it won't affect --
Q You said the President is not going to give specifics on the guest worker program and the legal -- path to legalization. Will he make it clear that his approach is a parallel approach to one that's on the Senate floor? In other words, maybe not give years and fine amounts, but is that the general direction he's going to signal he's going?
MR. KAPLAN: What he's going to signal is that he's for a comprehensive bill and he's going to lay out what constitutes a comprehensive bill. And one of the things is, as I talked about, is recognizing the reality that you're not going to deport 8 million to 12 million illegal immigrants who are currently here. And he's going to lay out what he thinks some of the meaningful distinctions are that you have to look at. And he's going to lay out what it is that he would -- what types of things that these people will need to do before they're eligible to apply for citizenship and stay in this country, because he is not for, as we talked about at length here, he's not for amnesty and just allowing people an automatic path to citizenship. He's not going to negotiate the conference report from the Oval Office -- tonight, anyway.
MR. SNOW: All right. Thank you very much.
END 5:22 P.M. EDT