White House Report, June 1: Immigration Reform, North Korea, Congo


President Bush said the U.S. Congress is moving forward on immigration reform legislation, with the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate having passed different versions of the legislation that now must be negotiated in a conference committee.

Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington June 1, Bush said, “The House and Senate bills will require effort and compromise on both sides.  It's a difficult task.  Yet the difficulty of this task is no excuse for avoiding it.”

Bush called for a comprehensive bill that will help secure U.S. borders, and permit trade and lawful immigration while keeping out illegal immigration, criminals, drug dealers and terrorists.

The president acknowledged that economic conditions in some neighboring countries are motivating many to risk their lives to cross the U.S. border to find work.

“[T]here are people in our neighborhood who are desperate to put food on the table for their families.  And if they, say, make $7 in America versus 50 cents where they live, and they want to support their families, … they're going to try to sneak across the border,” he said, even risking their lives by hiking across the desert or being “stuffed in the back of an 18-wheeler.”

The vast majority of illegal immigrants are decent and hardworking, the president said.  “They're part of American life and they are vital to our economy, and yet they're beyond the reach and protection of American law.”

However, their presence has put pressure on U.S. schools and hospitals, strained state and local budgets and, in some instances, brought crime.

The United States must “stop the number of people who are trying to sneak across in the first place.  And the best way to do that is to make a temporary worker program,” Bush said, adding that such a program “would create a legal path for foreign workers to enter this country in an orderly way for a limited period of time … [and] would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing.”

Immigration reform also should target the illegal industry that has developed in response to the pressure to enter the United States.  “These are these folks that are willing to use human life as a commodity, to make money off of somebody,” Bush said, such as “coyotes” who smuggle illegal immigrants, document forgers and “unscrupulous” American companies exploiting those who are willing to work for less than the market rate.

“We don't like people living in the shadows of our society.  We're a nation of the rule of law, and we want people to be treated with respect,” the president said.

The transcript of the president’s remarks is available on the White House Web site.


White House press secretary Tony Snow said the United States maintains its position that North Korea must return to multilateral talks involving China, South Korea, Russia, Japan and the United States and will not engage in direct bilateral negotiations with the North Korea over its nuclear weapons activities.

In response to North Korea’s invitation to U.S. envoy Christopher Hill to speak directly with North Korean officials in Pyongyang, Snow told reporters June 1 that the U.S. approach toward North Korea remains unchanged.

“The United States is not going to engage in bilateral negotiations with the government of North Korea.  We're going to continue to do it through the appropriate forum,” he said.

Snow also called upon North Korea’s government to fulfill its September 2005 agreement to dismantle its nuclear program in return for security guarantees, diplomatic concessions and energy aid.


President Bush will welcome Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president of the Republic of the Congo and current chairman of the African Union, to Washington June 5, according to a June 1 statement by press secretary Snow.

Bush and Sassou-Nguesso will discuss ways to strengthen democracy and improve the lives of the Congolese people, as well as the situation in Sudan, Snow said.

Regarding Sudan, the leaders will discuss “the implementation of the May 5, 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement, NATO assistance to strengthen the African Union Mission in Sudan and the follow-on U.N. mission, United Nations authorization to promptly transition to a U.N. peacekeeping force,” according to the statement.