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.
Thanks! I have been searching for the live thread on his speech.
Me too. Haven't seen it anywhere!
This isn't it. It's in Breaking News.
Hola, amigos! We'll have a 100 million in twenty years.
yeah but not his SpeAch!
Bravo Bush, Bravo!
I'm sorry, but this speech saddens me.
If it walks like amnesty, talks like amnesty, then by goodness it IS amnesty.
Bush just sold us out!
Still pushing amnesty I see. I didn't read it all, I read enough though. Same old BS by the same old BS***ers.
There's only 106 million Mexicans in all of Mexico.
I think your estimate is a little bit...unrealisitc. ;)
Tonight Bush will lay himself down in front of a speeding freight train. He really thinks he will be able to stop it. He does not realize that he is helping the Democrats and their Islamic allies destroy the spirit of the American people and with it all the fine work that was done in Afghanistan and Iraq. What in hell is he thinking? What a stupid stubborn idiotic position to take on immigration. I fear for my children and grandchildren.
If illegals who were released and told to report to a hearing on date x, and they didn't show up, what makes anyone think that if they take part in a work program and the end date arrives, that they'll show up (for a bus ride home)?
He's just offering us the Seante amnesty bill with a totally meaningless deployment of 6000 NG "support" personnel.
Nothing has changed.
It's a good speech. Dubya habitually develops most aspects of an issue before delivering his speech and he has done so again on this issue.
He could have stressed learning English more than he did.
He could have stressed shutting down the migration across the border more than he did.
Time for impeachment talks. Time for Boxcars to the Borders!!!
Columbia, Guatamala, Brazil...Libera, Nigeria,Uganda, Morrocco,Lybia..China...
He now trying to make people think guard members on the border would become a "quagmire".
I'm going to need this posted in spanish, thanks :)
Shamnesty is more like it.
Bush is nothing but a globalist sell-out. He can kiss my a$$.
He could have stood on his head and ranted in French. Good grief. It was a good speech and it said the right things.
Third, we should not give unfair rewards to illegal immigrants in the citizenship process or disadvantage those who came here lawfully, or hope to do so.
Fourth, new laws should provide incentives for temporary, foreign workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired.
The legal status granted by this program will last three years and will be renewable -- but it will have an end.
This program expects temporary workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired.
Some temporary workers will make the decision to pursue American citizenship. Those who make this choice will be allowed to apply in the normal way. They will not be given unfair advantage over people who have followed legal procedures from the start. I oppose amnesty, placing undocumented workers on the automatic path to citizenship. Granting amnesty encourages the violation of our laws, and perpetuates illegal immigration. America is a welcoming country, but citizenship must not be the automatic reward for violating the laws of America.
That's nothing. Wait for Michael Moore to call them "insurgents".
Where did he get his idea? Mexico has imprisoned our citizens, who are freed only by bribery. Mexico has published comic books showing their citizens how best to infiltrate our borders. Mexico has not passed a chance to stab us in the back politically, remember they opposed us going into Iraq.
Mexico is nothing more than a parasite, who is now upset because their free ride may be coming to an end. Mexico feels entitled to everything we have in America. They want it, but are too lazy to develop the riches of their country for themselves. Mexico has huge oil reserves offshore; yet they are unwilling to allow private companies to drill it. They are not openly hostile to Americans, simply because they know they wouldn't last an hour in an outright fight. But, they won't hesitate to stab us in the back at the first opportunty.
Don't believe me? Go visit Laredo and Neuvo Laredo some time. Just don't get too close to the border. If you do; you won't have the opportunity to call me a liar.
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.
Haha, yeah, they've been breaking the law longer. If they're permitted to stay then its amnesty, period, the citizen line is irrelevant.
that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say.
That's all it is to the transnational elite, a matter of papers.
Before or after they bus their criminals to the border so they can hop across?
The VAST majority of illegal immigrants come from Mexico. You know that. Coming from anywhere else takes a long trip across Mexico, which is dicey to say the least, or air travel, where we are pretty tough on passport control and what not.
Go back to DU and talk to your buddies then, troll.
Bush plan= 6,000 National Gurard for one year. 100 million illegal aliens FOREVER!!!
Aha! The blue tie. He sounded somewhat tired, but the delivery was okay. The speech was excellent and now it is off to Congress.
He is trying to be on all sides of the issue by offering soundbites for everyone. Basically he's pulling a Clinton. Nothing much we can do about it.
Bush just destroyed the Republican Party tonight.
Well, it is not a 'blanket' amnesty. . .what IS the alternative. . .send eleven million of the home this week? Or just start, one by one. . .? There are incentives here for these people to do the 'right thing'; and reasons to send them home; it is a start.
IT is a terrible situation; but reason has to come to bear here somewhere. IMHO. .
Meantime, stop the Liberalizing of Education. . .so these people can learn our history. . .and appreciate it. Same goes for our children as well.
Anyone else wants a ticket outta here, that's how.
It's a sad day really for us older Americans that we have to close the border to our long time friends but it needed to be done. Great work.
Still intends to keep the gates open.
If 20% or 30% vote the demographics of the vote (and politics in the U.S.) WILL CHANGE.. Cause those of them that won't be democrats WILL BE RINOs..
YEP! More of the same crap. Amnesty isn't amnesty and smoke and mirrors.
The democrats will be fools to oppose all this. ALL the polls, even the liberal ones taken about the border issue show that 70% to 80% or more of American CITIZENS want the border secured and illegals deported. Thats about 99% of conservatives and a significant number of the independents and the few rational democrats. If the democrats fight this, they will lose big for sure in November, as it will be so easy to paint them as anti-border security. This is awesome. Just my opinion, but I bet the Border Patrol story about them leaking Minuteman and other border watch group location and numbers to the Mexican Consulate is what made Bush have to get serious about this. Hes been in trouble about the border for a long time, but I think that might have pushed it over the edge.
Ill bet over the next few weeks, his "approval" rating numbers go up 20 to 30%. The his conservative base, like me, is why its been so far down. Id give him a favorable now. THAT is the President I voted for two times. The only thing that would make it even better the next few months would be Bin-Laden being found dead in Afghanistan, and Justice Stevens or Ginsburg retiring so the Democrats can froth at the mouth demanding a flaming liberal to take their place. A huge majority of the American people want what Bush put forward tonight. The Democrats took a big hit tonight with this speech.
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