We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. My administration has put in place a comprehensive strategy to address the problem of illegal immigration. Over the past 3 years, we have begun to reverse years of neglect at the border, with a 50 percent increase in border patrol agents and new technology to stop illegal crossings. We are deporting record numbers of criminals and other deportable aliens. But all this will not stem the tide of illegal immigration if we do not reduce the job magnet that draws illegal immigrants to this country.
It is against the law for businesses to hire workers who are illegal immigrants and are not authorized to work in the United States. For too long, however, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has lacked the resources needed for vigorous enforcement. My administration has provided the INS with the resources it needs to enforce the law. We have made it easier for employers who want to comply with the law. At the same time we have cracked down on employers who repeatedly violate the law. But we must do more.
Today I am signing the Executive order on immigration that I announced in my State of the Union Address. This Executive order keeps Federal contracts from going to businesses that knowingly hire illegal workers. It reinforces the principle that Government business—and tax dollars—should not be directed to employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. And for the first time, it will subject those companies to Governmentwide debarment. This will help the efficiency of our Government. And it will have the effect of increasing respect for our laws. The Executive order is simple and straightforward. It will neither burden employers with needless paperwork, nor place unreasonable demands on Government contracting agencies.
At the same time, I want to make clear that we will not tolerate employment discrimination. Federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees or new hires on the basis of national origin or race. These antidiscrimination laws protect legal workers, and I am determined that our strengthened enforcement of illegal immigration laws will not weaken these protections.
American jobs belong to America's legal workers. This Executive order will make clear that when it comes to enforcing our Nation's immigration laws, we mean business. We are determined to restore the rule of law to our Nation's immigration system.