Bill Clinton photo

Interview With Luis Eschegoyan of KDTV, San Francisco

November 04, 1994

The President. Hello, Luis, can you hear me?

Mr. Eschegoyan. Yes, Mr. President. Good afternoon.

The President. Good afternoon.


Mr. Eschegoyan. Thank you, Mr. President, for giving us the opportunity to talk to you. What is your impression of Proposition 187, included in the California ballot?

The President. I'm opposed to it. I do believe that the Federal Government has an obligation to do more to try to help California deal with the problems of illegal immigration. And I have worked hard on that, along with Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer. We've almost doubled the border guards in southern California; we have increased our sending the illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes back home. We've given money to California for the very first time to deal with the costs of imprisonment.

I've tried to get much more money for education and health care costs of immigration to California. But 187 operates primarily against children. It says, kick the children out of the health clinics. That could cause health problems for the general population. It says, kick the children out of the schools, which means teachers are turned into police officers. It means that the kids can be on the street causing problems for themselves and for others. We've already got too many children on the street.

So I believe we have to do more. I'm working hard. I found a big immigration mess when I became President 21 months ago. But this is not the answer, in my opinion, and I hope the voters will turn out and vote and reject 187. It's a way of dividing our people, it's clearly unconstitutional, and it's looking for easy answers to a tough problem. After all, some of the people that are for 187 are part of the problem. When Governor Wilson was Senator Wilson, he responded to the powerful forces in California that wanted more illegal immigrants in California to do work. He sponsored legislation to make it more difficult to remove illegal immigrants from the workplace by going easier on the employers. Now he, all of a sudden, has turned 180 degrees on this issue. But this is a complicated issue without a simple solution. I'm committed to working with you to find a solution. I don't think 187 is the answer.

I hope that our listeners, our viewers, will turn out and vote on Tuesday and vote against 187, and I hope they'll come to the Kaiser Center in Oakland tomorrow where I'm going to have a rally at 2 o'clock.

Mr. Eschegoyan. Mr. President, if 187 is approved, do you think it will affect the NAFTA treaty with Mexico?

The President. I don't know that it will affect NAFTA, but it will certainly affect our relations with Mexico. You know, in the long run, the best way to reduce illegal immigration is for more people in Mexico and these other countries to have good jobs in their own countries, to trade with us, to sell to us and buy from us, and live in stable societies.

California has benefited more from NAFTA than any other State, with the possible exception of Texas. It has brought us increased numbers of new jobs and new opportunities. And as it raises incomes in Mexico, clearly, illegal immigration will slow because there will be more job opportunities at home. People like to stay with their families and where they grew up, if they can make a living.

Mr. Eschegoyan. Thank you, Mr. President, to talk to us here at KDTV, Channel 14, in San Francisco.

The President. Thank you. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:25 a.m. by telephone from the Holiday Inn in Duluth, MN.

William J. Clinton, Interview With Luis Eschegoyan of KDTV, San Francisco Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives