Skip to comments.Full Text, Bush Speech.
Posted on 05/15/2006 5:14:48 PM PDT by Leisler
FROM THE WHITE HOUSE, here's the full text of Bush's speech. Click "read more" to see it.
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Embargoed Until Delivery
At 8:01:30 P.M. EDT
Monday, May 15, 2006
THE PRESIDENT DELIVERS AN ADDRESS TO THE NATION
As Prepared for Delivery
Good evening. I have asked for a few minutes of your time to discuss a matter of national importance the reform of Americas immigration system.
The issue of immigration stirs intense emotions and in recent weeks, Americans have seen those emotions on display. On the streets of major cities, crowds have rallied in support of those in our country illegally. At our southern border, others have organized to stop illegal immigrants from coming in. Across the country, Americans are trying to reconcile these contrasting images. And in Washington, the debate over immigration reform has reached a time of decision. Tonight, I will make it clear where I stand, and where I want to lead our country on this vital issue.
We must begin by recognizing the problems with our immigration system. For decades, the United States has not been in complete control of its borders. As a result, many who want to work in our economy have been able to sneak across our border and millions have stayed.
Once here, illegal immigrants live in the shadows of our society. Many use forged documents to get jobs, and that makes it difficult for employers to verify that the workers they hire are legal. Illegal immigration puts pressure on public schools and hospitals ... strains state and local budgets ... and brings crime to our communities. These are real problems, yet we must remember that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are decent people who work hard, support their families, practice their faith, and lead responsible lives. They are a part of American life but they are beyond the reach and protection of American law.
We are a Nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws. We are also a Nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways. These are not contradictory goals America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time. We will fix the problems created by illegal immigration, and we will deliver a system that is secure, orderly, and fair. So I support comprehensive immigration reform that will accomplish five clear objectives.
First, the United States must secure its borders. This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign Nation. It is also an urgent requirement of our national security. Our objective is straightforward: The border should be open to trade and lawful immigration and shut to illegal immigrants, as well as criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists.
I was the governor of a state that has a twelve-hundred mile border with Mexico. So I know how difficult it is to enforce the border, and how important it is. Since I became President, we have increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and expanded the Border Patrol from about 9,000 to 12,000 agents. The men and women of our Border Patrol are doing a fine job in difficult circumstances and over the past five years, we have apprehended and sent home about six million people entering America illegally.
Despite this progress, we do not yet have full control of the border, and I am determined to change that. Tonight I am calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border. By the end of 2008, we will increase the number of Border Patrol officers by an additional 6,000. When these new agents are deployed, we will have more than doubled the size of the Border Patrol during my Presidency.
At the same time, we are launching the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history. We will 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 prevent illegal crossings. America has the best technology in the world and we will ensure that the Border Patrol has the technology they need to do their job and secure our border.
Training thousands of new Border Patrol agents and bringing the most advanced technology to the border will take time. Yet the need to secure our border is urgent. So I am announcing several immediate steps to strengthen border enforcement during this period of transition:
One way to help during this transition is to use the National Guard. So in coordination with governors, up to 6,000 Guard members will be deployed to our southern border. The Border Patrol will remain in the lead. The Guard will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems analyzing intelligence installing fences and vehicle barriers building patrol roads and providing training. Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities that duty will be done by the Border Patrol. This initial commitment of Guard members would last for a period of one year. After that, the number of Guard forces will be reduced as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online. It is important for Americans to know that we have enough Guard forces to win the war on terror, respond to natural disasters, and help secure our border.
The United States is not going to militarize the southern border. Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend. We will continue to work cooperatively to improve security on both sides of the border ... to confront common problems like drug trafficking and crime ... and to reduce illegal immigration.
Another way to help during this period of transition is through state and local law enforcement in our border communities. So we will increase federal funding for state and local authorities assisting the Border Patrol on targeted enforcement missions. And we will give state and local authorities the specialized training they need to help federal officers apprehend and detain illegal immigrants. State and local law enforcement officials are an important resource and they are part of our strategy to secure our border communities.
The steps I have outlined will improve our ability to catch people entering our country illegally. At the same time, we must ensure that every illegal immigrant we catch crossing our southern border is returned home. More than 85 percent of the illegal immigrants we catch crossing the southern border are Mexicans, and most are sent back home within 24 hours. But when we catch illegal immigrants from other countries, it is not as easy to send them home. For many years, the government did not have enough space in our detention facilities to hold them while the legal process unfolded. So most were released back into our society and asked to return for a court date. When the date arrived, the vast majority did not show up. This practice, called catch and release, is unacceptable and we will end it.
We are taking several important steps to meet this goal. We have expanded the number of beds in our detention facilities, and we will continue to add more. We have expedited the legal process to cut the average deportation time. And we are making it clear to foreign governments that they must accept back their citizens who violate our immigration laws. As a result of these actions, we have ended catch and release for illegal immigrants from some countries. And I will ask Congress for additional funding and legal authority, so we can end catch and release at the southern border once and for all. When people know that they will be caught and sent home if they enter our country illegally, they will be less likely to try to sneak in.
Second, to secure our border, we must create a temporary worker program. The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life. They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country. This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop. To secure the border effectively, we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across.
Therefore, I support 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 stay.
A temporary worker program would meet the needs of our economy, and it would give honest immigrants a way to provide for their families while respecting the law. A temporary worker program would reduce the appeal of human smugglers and make it less likely that people would risk their lives to cross the border. It would ease the financial burden on state and local governments, by replacing illegal workers with lawful taxpayers. And above all, a temporary worker program would add to our security by making certain we know who is in our country and why they are here.
Third, we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees, because of the widespread problem of document fraud. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility. A key part of that system should be a new identification card for every legal foreign worker. This card should use biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to make it tamper-proof. A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. And 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.
Fourth, we must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration.
Some in this country argue that the solution is to deport every illegal immigrant and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty. I disagree. It is neither wise nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border. There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation. That middle ground recognizes 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. I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law to pay their taxes to learn English and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship but approval would not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law. What I have just described is not amnesty it is a way for those who have broken the law to pay their debt to society, and demonstrate the character that makes a good citizen.
Fifth, we must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one Nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace 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. English is also the key to unlocking the opportunity of America. English allows newcomers to go from picking crops to opening a grocery from cleaning offices to running offices from a life of low-paying jobs to a diploma, a career, and a home of their own. When immigrants assimilate and advance in our society, they realize their dreams ... they renew our spirit ... and they add to the unity of America.
Tonight, I want to speak directly to Members of the House and the Senate: An immigration reform bill needs to be comprehensive, because 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 we can work out the differences between the two bills, and Congress can pass a comprehensive bill for me to sign into law.
America needs to conduct this debate on immigration in a reasoned and respectful tone. Feelings run deep on this issue and as we work it out, all of us need to keep some things in mind. We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or playing on anyones 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.
I know many of you listening tonight have a parent or a grandparent who came here from another country with dreams of a better life. You know what freedom meant to them, and you know that America is a more hopeful country because of their hard work and sacrifice. As President, I have had the opportunity to meet people of many backgrounds, and hear what America means to them. On a visit to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Laura and I met a wounded Marine named Guadalupe Denogean. Master Gunnery Sergeant Denogean came to the United States from Mexico when he was a boy. He spent his summers picking crops with his family, and then he volunteered for the United States Marine Corps as soon as he was able. During the liberation of Iraq, Master Gunnery Sergeant Denogean was seriously injured. When asked if he had any requests, he made two a promotion for the corporal who helped rescue him and the chance to become an American citizen. And when this brave Marine raised his right hand, and swore an oath to become a citizen of the country he had defended for more than 26 years, I was honored to stand at his side.
We will always be proud to welcome people like Guadalupe Denogean as fellow Americans. Our new immigrants are just what they have always been people willing to risk everything for the dream of freedom. And America remains what she has always been the great hope on the horizon an open door to the future a blessed and promised land. We honor the heritage of all who come here, no matter where they are from, because we trust in our countrys genius for making us all Americans one Nation under God. Thank you, and good night.
I can understand allowing people who have been here for five or more years, have jobs and a family and haven't been arrested, to remain if they want to be American citizens and give up their former allegience.
I can understand allowing anyone who has served in our military honorably to become an American citizen.
But a blanket amnesty as proposed by Bush under a "guest worker plan" is wrong, is unfair and provides some kind of favored nation status to Mexico. Sorry - we owe them not one dinero.
As far as sending 5,000 National Guardsmen to the border, that isn't enough. Its a sop. And what are they to do? Provide technical expertise?
We need several times that number who are armed and able to physically stop illegal invaders.
We need a law that allows the Federal government to sieze the assets of any business which knowingly hires illegals and sell them to defray government expenses cleaning up this mess.
We need a National I.D. card linked to a birth certificate database to identify illegals when they seek benefits or a job so they can be deported.
We need a wall along the Mexican border to make it clear we mean business and to keep illegals out.
And most of all, Congress needs to heed the wishes of the vast majority of Americans on this subject and ignore exploiters of foreign labor, Latino pressure groups, and most of ..... President Bush on this subject.
And if they don't regardless of party, they should be sent packing in June and November.
On illegal invaders and border security, Bush has lost touch with reality.
The ONLY way Americans are allwwing Congress and the President to get away with giving away our birthrights is because they really don't appreacaite what it means to be an American. More of these illegal inivaders understand that than do many of us.
I get my lawn mowed for 50 bucks a month by AMERICAN citizens, every two weeks like clock work. No ILLEGALS in sight. Why can't you? I had high school kids move me for 25 bucks a head for a couple hours work. Why can't you?
I believe you are lying to prove a point, an old liberal trick that open borders crowd and other so called conservatives are not to proud to emulate.
Senate passes the Sessions/Nelson bill. After adjustments with the House it goes to Bush. Bush signs it, Repubs gain seats.
If he vetoes it, the Dems will run on Bush not controlling his right wingers and more seats will be picked up by the Repubs.
I don't know one person who supports the national Democratic party stand on this.
Gingrich-Tancredo `08? Is it too much of a case of wishful thinking?
I voted for this man!!!!!!!!WHY!!!!!!!!!!
Uh, excuse me Mr. President, those are the same talking points that democrats are using? And I honestly feel that it is amnesty. Aliens who are here illegally need to go home to be in the back of the line, After all, we ARE a nation of laws, as you stated? Why should lawbreakers, especially alien lawbreakers, be allowed to remain in this country (in front of the line when considering that a person who has applied for citizenship from any other country has to wait IN THAT COUNTRY while the illegal alien who has sneaked across our borders gets to stay here while he waits for his legality????????????????????????????????????
Maybe I just don't get it, but that sure seems like preferential citizenship (read amnesty) for those who came to the US illegally while the immigrant who has applied legally has to wait?????
The illegals came here for one reason, and one reason alone. And that was to find a job. If the jobs that illegals are hired to do dry up, the vast majority of illegals would find their way back home. The employers of the illegals need to be fined and jailed to reverse this foreign invasion......
Noted, that you believe I'm a liar.
Now send me someone to do the housekeeping.
Before I read a single comment, I will just say that I think this speech set exactly the right tone. It emphasizes physical security but also allows for guest workers and a citizenship track, without which no system can succeed. IMHO, Bush hit this one out of the park.
I know there are some who may think it is not enough, too little, too late. To those, I say that the President does not have the luxury of pie-in-the-sky thinking. He cannot bloviate without coming up with real solutions. Some past Presidents have, but this particular President takes his responsibility seriously.
So, Kudos to President Bush. I cannot imagine a better speech to be given in this situation.
I like living on an island. We don't have this problem. But it seems to me like illegal immigration is being used here as a wedge issue, and Bush is doing a poor job of dividing the country over it. A lot of the posts I've read decry Bush for this. The only thing this is doing is driving a wedge between the Republican party. That is my view from across the pond.
Tony Blair is reportedly stepping down. His approval rating is 4% less than Bush.
For what reason .. policy disagreements?
||Politics as usual. No matter what, I'm paying for another welfare state.|
In 2008, I'll be voting next to people who snuck into the country illegally. However, I'll be much more careful about who I vote for.
Not that it will matter...
I agree completely. Outside of a few good judges, our quick elimination of the Taliban, and our continuing war against Al Qaeda, there is very little that I can point to that I like about this president.
When it comes to government spending and border enforcement, he is as bad as any democrat.
. . .but despite those who say. . .we have our OWN work force to take care of these jobs, thankyou. . .the truth of the matter is we do not. . .and the majority of those here are working and we need them to continue doing so. . .
. . .but we can slow this down. . .and send back those who are not inclined to the higher aspects of citizenship by requiring some personal responsibility towards being a 'good citizen'. . .and change the old citizenship initiation; requiring more than 'birth on our soil'. . .(parents not legal. . .baby not legal. . .)
And instead of our employers being fined for employing illegals. . .confiscate instead, the monies currently being paid back to Vicente Fox by 'virtue' of his Mexican citizens working in U.S.A. . .
And send every illegal revolutionary and gang member and law breaker. . .home; no matter where it is, immediately. . .
Anymore cutsie comments intended to pick a fight instead of have rational adult dialogue?
The President has two problems. One is the Dims are not going to support him in his legislative efforts, even though his speech is largely congenial to their concerns. Why won't they? Because the Dims support nothing, always. And this gets us to the second problem. His speech alienates hard-core conservatives. The President made no demands - not a single one - on Fox in Mexico. For instance, he did not say to him publicly: Look, if we are picking up as many illegals at the border next year as this, then we build a fence from Matamoras to San Diego. This is hardly what the President said.
So this leaves him and the Republican leadership with a most basic question: Who, exactly, will vote for the legislation the President envisions?
"One way to help during this transition is to use the National Guard. So in coordination with governors, up to 6,000 Guard members will be deployed to our southern border. The Border Patrol will remain in the lead. The Guard will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems
installing fences and vehicle barriers
building patrol roads
and providing training. Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities that duty will be done by the Border Patrol. This initial commitment of Guard members would last for a period of one year. After that, the number of Guard forces will be reduced as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online. It is important for Americans to know that we have enough Guard forces to win the war on terror, respond to natural disasters, and help secure our border.
The United States is not going to militarize the southern border. Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend. We will continue to work cooperatively to improve security on both sides of the border ... to confront common problems like drug trafficking and crime ... and to reduce illegal immigration."
Mexico is not our friend. Mexico uses the open border to hedge the bets that the masses will not revolt. Is the NG armed and ready to defend itself? If not, the whole thing is a sham.
GWB should have said, "Mexico, this is your chance to fix your own failings, we will no longer be your ventilation system, feed and employ your own people".
To all of you guys who are staying home on election day...May I make a suggestion? Do a little planning. Make a plan for how to adjust your finances when the Dems up your taxes. Make a plan for how to defend your family when the Dems surrender in the GWOT. Definately make a plan for wishing Pelosi your best when Bush/Cheney are impeached. May G-d Bless a Marxist America.
Speech text, ping.
Thanks for reporting that.
Lou Dobbs liked the speech. It's only the border hysterics who didn't like it.
He still intends to keep the gates open.
You are correct sir. I do not believe the job of the opposition party is to support what the government does, it is to oppose it. At least that is the case in parliamentary politics. Bush needs support of the Republicans, not the Democrats.
To freepers in general:
I thought this was a conservative discussion site, not a Democratic hate forum.
The democrats support issues that appeal to democrats. They're by nature not going to support anything in the Republican agenda. Have some common sense, understand what goes on. Its okay to support the republican party and conservative politics without hating another party.
(by the way, i voted Labour in the last election, which is the center-right party in the UK)
I believe 90% of American citizens want that. I mean, look at the polls. On average, roughly 80% of all those polled in the media polls, even the lib ones, show they want the illegals deported and the borders sealed. the 90% of the people here who want illegals gone reflect most of the American people too.
The democrats will scream over Bush beefing up the Border Patrol (Even though it will be a small step), because it interferes with their stream of new voters.
That's what I was thinking.
The Democrats will NOT be happy until we are BUSSING in all of the world's poor and criminals to become citizens in the US.
>>Yet the need to secure our border is urgent.<<
As I look at my calendar, it is 2006. A couple more years left in Bush's term, six years since he was elected, and nearly five years since the World Trade Center attacks.
I agree with you. I've been saying for months that if the pubs will get their heads out of their fartknockers long enough to figure out they have more to fear from the Conservative voter majority because of inaction, than the have to fear from the frothing liberal minority calling them racists because of taking action, they'd be a permanent majority. Especially considering that the middle of the road voters want the border secured also and are sick of this crap and they'll vote the big "R" every November if the Republicans get serious and secure the border and deport illegals and force obediance of our laws. It's just that simple.
I say take a page from the War on Drugs--asset forfieture!! Empower local governments to arrest and seize the assets of illegal aliens and businesses who systematically employ them and split the proceeds with the Feds. Watch how fast local governments hop on the enforcement bandwagon.
It's an election year, if I remember my American politics correctly.
Good post. The problem with immigration has been going on for twenty years, but most of the posters on this thread belong to a group who would fit in better with the DU. Calling themselves conservatives is a farce. "Blame Bush" is their slogan and mantra and they are no better than any liberal spouting their hatred for President Bush.
The vast majority of those "many peoples" where white. White majority melting pots have worked before but other kinds don't have such a great track record. I've never had it explained to me why we're supposed to allow the US to become a white minority country. White guilt?
An immigration reform bill needs to be comprehensive, because all elements of this problem must be addressed together
Why can't they be addressed separately?
Five years,not five days or five weeks or even months.
Do you really think the President's speech appeals to conservatives? Or do you think "conservatism" means supporting whatever the President says and does, a la Harriet Myers?
If the Republicans in Congress will find, rent, steal a spine and come out hard against illegals demanding deportation, and demanding the border being secured they would find that the strong vocal support by 3 out of 5 Americans would easily drown out the frothing liberal minority calling the racists. But many pubs are so scared of being called racists that don't seem to understand that most Americans are sick of the border pharce and want it to be dealt with, and will support them strongly if they will just do so. Most Americans know good and well that being anti-illegal immigrant isn't even close to being racist. That's just the typical accusation from liberals to any Conservative deciding to make tough decisions, the liberals of course being the real racists.
The jury is still out ...
our quick elimination of the Taliban,
And its replacement by a ... slightly ... less radical Islamic Republic, which still believes that death is appropriate for someone who converts from islam to Christianity ...
I watched the lady that is the head of LaRaza on Lou Dobbs before the President's speech. I honestly couldn't tell much difference between her rhetoric and the President's. So sad.
Well, we are not a Parlimentary system (thank God!). If we were Bush might very well have been removed by now in a no confidence vote.
It's not the job of Republicans to take whatever the party leaders decide to do and support it. It is their job to listen to the voters in the party or suffer the consequenses. Most of us at this site Americans first, conservatives second and Republicans third. There is nothing American or conservative in flooding the country with 100 million illegals.
Bladerdash. I am a conservative. George W. Bush is not. Those who believe that a free spending globalist (who proclaims himself a democrat frequently) is any kind of conservative are living in a dream world.