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The White House, President George W. Bush

Opening New Markets for America's Small Businesses
Remarks by the President to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Renaissance Hotel
Washington, D.C.

2:45 P.M. EST

[ ... ]

I think something that will benefit our economy and help the small business sector is to reform our immigration laws to help -- (applause.) I proposed a worker program here that says we can match a willing foreign worker with an employer in America so long as an American is not willing to do the job. Look, I know a lot of you are wondering whether or not you're hiring somebody who you should be hiring. And that's because the system is broken down. That's why you wonder that. My attitude is, rather than have people live in the shadows of our society, let's have an honest system. Let's say that if you're -- if you need a worker, there's a way to help expedite your search for somebody in our country. But if you can't find anybody, you ought to be able to hire anybody you want. And therefore, we ought to have a temporary worker card for people.

And it will help rout out the corruption and the fraud. You know what I'm talking about. The paperwork, you don't know where it comes from if you're hiring in the construction world. It doesn't make sense to have a system where Border Patrol is kind of searching for workers simply coming to our -- people coming to our country to make a living for their families. They ought to be looking for terrorists and narco traffickers, smugglers -- (applause.) And so a worker system would take the burden off of many at our borders.

People often ask me, do you support amnesty? I don't. You see, and the reason I don't is because I'm afraid it would further illegal immigration, as well as rewards those who haven't lived to the law. We've got a lot of honest people who are trying to become citizens of the United States of America, who have stood in line for a long period of time, and it doesn't seem that we ought to have a worker system that allows somebody to cut in line. That's not fair. One of the things we are in America is we're fair. And people should -- people who have been in line shouldn't be penalized for having taken the legal route up to now.

But one thing is for certain: We've got to respect people who are in our country. We've got to treat them with decency. And when the system is broke, we need to reform it. (Applause.)

[ ... ]

[ End ]