For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 7, 2004
Sheet: Fair and Secure Immigration Reform
Today's Presidential Action
|Today, President Bush proposed a new temporary worker program to match
willing foreign workers with willing U.S. employers when no Americans can be
found to fill the jobs. The program would be open to new foreign workers,
and to the undocumented men and women currently employed in the U.S. This
new program would allow workers who currently hold jobs to come out of
hiding and participate legally in America's economy while not encouraging
further illegal behavior.
|President Bush also asked Congress to work with him to achieve
significant immigration reform that protects the homeland by controlling the
borders; serves America's economy by matching a willing worker with a
willing employer; promotes compassion for unprotected workers; provides
incentives for temporary workers to return to their home countries and
families; protects the rights of legal immigrants while not unfairly
rewarding those who came here unlawfully or hope to do so. This legislation
must also meet the Nation's economic needs and live up to the promise and
values of America. |
Background on Today's Presidential Action
America is a welcoming nation, and the hard work and strength of our
immigrants have made our Nation prosperous. Many immigrants and sons and
daughters of immigrants have joined the military to help safeguard the liberty
of America. Illegal immigration, however, creates an underclass of workers,
afraid and vulnerable to exploitation. Current immigration law can also hinder
companies from finding willing workers. The visas now available do not allow
employers to fill jobs in many key sectors of our economy. Workers risk their
lives in dangerous and illegal border crossings and are consigned to live their
lives in the shadows. Without harming the economic security of Americans, reform
of our Nation's immigration laws will create a system that is fairer, more
consistent, and more compassionate.
|Principles of Immigration Reform -- The President's proposal is
based on several basic principles:
|Protecting the Homeland by Controlling Our Borders: The
program should link to efforts to control our border through agreements
with countries whose nationals participate in the program. It must
support ongoing efforts to enhance homeland security.
|Serve America's Economy by Matching a Willing Worker with a
Willing Employer: When no American worker is available and willing
to take a job, the program should provide a labor supply for American
employers. It should do so in a way that is clear, streamlined, and
efficient so people can find jobs and employers can find workers in a
|Promoting Compassion: The program should grant currently
working undocumented aliens a temporary worker status to prevent
exploitation. Participants would be issued a temporary worker card that
will allow them to travel back and forth between their home and the U.S.
without fear of being denied re-entry into America.
|Providing Incentives for Return to Home Country: The program
will require the return of temporary workers to their home country after
their period of work has concluded. The legal status granted by this
program would last three years, be renewable, and would have an end.
During the temporary work period, it should allow movement across the
U.S. borders so the worker can maintain roots in their home country.
|Protecting the Rights of Legal Immigrants: The program should
not connect participation to a green card or citizenship. However, it
should not preclude a participant from obtaining green card status
through the existing process. It should not permit undocumented workers
to gain an advantage over those who have followed the rules. |
|Temporary Worker Program
President Bush does not support amnesty because individuals who violate
America's laws should not be rewarded for illegal behavior and because
amnesty perpetuates illegal immigration. The President proposes that the
Federal Government offer temporary worker status to undocumented men and
women now employed in the United States and to those in foreign countries
who have been offered employment here. The workers under temporary status
must pay a one-time fee to register in the program, abide by the rules, and
return home after their period of work expires. There would be an
opportunity for renewal. In the future, only people outside the U.S. may
join the temporary worker program, and there will be an orderly system in
place to address the needs of workers and companies.
|American Workers Come First: Employers must make every
reasonable effort to find an American to fill a job before extending job
offers to foreign workers.
|Workplace Enforcement of Immigration Laws: Enforcement
against companies that break the law and hire illegal workers will
|Economic Incentives to Return Home: The U.S. will work with
other countries to allow aliens working in the U.S. to receive credit in
their nations' retirement systems and will support the creation of
tax-preferred savings accounts they can collect when they return to
their native countries.
|Fair and Meaningful Citizenship Process: Some temporary
workers will want to remain in America and pursue citizenship. They
should not receive an unfair advantage over those who have followed the
law, and they will need to be placed in line for citizenship behind
those who are already in line. Those who choose the path of citizenship
will have an obligation to learn the facts and ideals that have shaped
|Reasonable Annual Increase of Legal Immigrants: A reasonable
increase in the annual limit of legal immigrants will benefit those who
follow the lawful path to citizenship. |
|Benefits to America of the Temporary Worker Program
|A more prosperous economy -- for America. The program would allow
workers to find jobs and employers to find workers, quickly and simply.
|A more secure homeland -- to improve the efficiency and management
of all people who cross our borders. It is in the interest of the
Nation, and each community, to identify foreign visitors and immigrants
and make clear the nature of their intentions.
|A more compassionate system -- to protect all workers in America
with labor laws, the right to change jobs, fair wages, and a healthy
|Homeland Security and Border Enforcement
|Border Patrol has increased from a strength of 9,788 on September
11, 2001 to 10,835 on December 1, 2003. Between ports of entry on the
northern border, the size of the Border Patrol has tripled to more than
1,000 agents. In addition, the Border Patrol is continuing installation
of monitoring devices along the borders to detect illegal activity.
|The Bush Administration's Operation Tarmac was launched to
investigate businesses and workers in the secure areas of domestic
airports and ensure immigration law compliance. Since 9/11, DHS has
audited 3,640 businesses, examined 259,037 employee records, arrested
1,030 unauthorized workers, and participated in the criminal indictment
of 774 individuals.
|President Bush announced the Student and Exchange Visitor
Information System (SEVIS), an internet-based system that is improving
America's ability to track and monitor foreign students and exchange
visitors. Over 870,000 students are registered in SEVIS. Of 285
completed field investigations, 71 aliens were arrested.
|This week, the US-VISIT program began to digitally collect biometric
identifiers to record the entry and exit of aliens who travel into the
U.S on a visa. Together with the standard information, this new program
will confirm compliance with visa and immigration policies.|
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