George W. Bush photo

Remarks Following a Meeting on Immigration Reform

May 03, 2007

I want to thank my fellow Americans for joining me today to discuss a very important issue, and that is immigration.

In my discussions, I've talked to clergy that recognize that our country needs a comprehensive immigration reform. And part of that is to help people learn English. I've talked to people who've worked for corporate America. Andy works for Marriott International, a corporation that understands that it's very helpful; it's in their interest to help people assimilate.

I've talked to Emilio, who works for the Government. He's the head of the old INS, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services. He has the opportunity often to swear in new citizens, and he sees the great hope that people have. I've talked to church workers who are reaching out in their communities to help people learn the benefits of the language—the English language. And thank you for tutoring and being kind.

I've talked to people that are raising families, that have come from other countries, that are now U.S. citizens and understand the benefit of what it means to have learned English. Francisco said, "When you learn English, doors open up for you." And I appreciate that beautiful sentiment because it's true.

I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform. One aspect of comprehensive immigration reform is to help people assimilate into America. And part of that is to have a comprehensive strategy to help people learn the English language and to learn the history and traditions of the United States.

Comprehensive immigration reform requires us to uphold law and enforce our borders in a humane way. Comprehensive immigration reform means that we need a temporary-worker program for workers who will be coming into our country. It's a program that treats people with respect, a program that helps meet the economic needs of our country. Comprehensive immigration reform means that employers have got to obey the law. Comprehensive immigration reform means that we've got to be humane about the nearly 11 or 12 million people who are already here. As I said in a speech down in Miami, We need to treat these people not with amnesty and not with animosity. So it's got to be a rational way forward.

And I'm looking forward to working with both Democrats and Republicans to get a comprehensive immigration bill done this year. We have a good chance to get it done. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, comprehensive immigration reform is in the Nation's interest. And I'll continue working with Members of Congress to encourage them to do the hard work necessary to make sure a system that is not working is reformed in a way that meets our national needs and listens to our national heart. After all, America is a land of immigrants. Immigration helps renew our soul. It helps redefine our spirit in a positive way.

And I'm so proud to be with you, and I thank you for your time. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:26 a.m. at the Asamblea de Iglesias Cristianas, Centro Evangelistico. In his remarks, he referred to Andy Chaves, youth programs director and manager of workforce effectiveness and diversity, Marriott International, Inc.; Emilio T. Gonzalez, director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and Francisco Lara, heavy equipment operator, Covanta Energy. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following a Meeting on Immigration Reform Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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