White House Daily Briefing, January 7, 2004
|Wednesday January 7,
THE WHITE HOUSE
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:44 P.M. EST
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. The President looks forward to this afternoon making remarks on immigration in the East Room. As you've heard me say and heard the President say, America is a welcoming society and we are a nation of immigrants, and we are better and stronger for it. And today the President will be outlining his proposal for a new temporary worker program to match willing workers with willing employers when there is no American that can be found to fill those jobs. This program will be open to new foreign workers and to the undocumented men and women currently employed here in the United States. And this will allow those who are currently here in the United States working and that are undocumented to come out of the shadows and participate legally in America's economy, while not encouraging further illegal behavior.
And the President will also call on Congress to pass this proposal based on some specific principles. Those principles include protecting the homeland by controlling our borders, serving America's economy by matching willing workers with willing employers, promoting compassion, which this initiative will do, and providing incentives for these workers to return home to their countries, and then protecting the rights of legal immigrants who will now have the same protections that are afforded to other workers here in this country under this program.
We should have an immigration law that is fair, humane, and that makes our nation more secure. And our policy today is currently not working, and that's why the President will be discussing his plan for reforming our immigration laws to make them more fair and to make our nation more secure.
And with that, I'll be glad to go into questions.
QUESTION: A lot of the criticism that's surfaced already on this proposal is that it doesn't give enough opportunities to immigrants who are here already to remain permanently. Why not? Why not open that program up to everyone who is here now and wants to stay?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, the President has previously stated his opposition to any kind of blanket amnesty. The President has long recognized that we are a welcoming society and a nation of immigrants, and that our policy should reflect that compassionate side of America. We also have an important economic need to meet. There are a number of jobs that, for whatever reasons, Americans have not filled, and this is an opportunity for workers from abroad who can fill those jobs to participate in our economy and to contribute back to our society, just like others in our society do today through paying taxes and other such means. But the President believes we should not be rewarding illegal behavior. And that's one of the principles which he will discuss in his remarks.
Q: Scott, there's a study out of Chicago that says that some employers are more willing to hire undocumented persons instead of some other Americans because they feel that they're docile, they feel that they don't want benefits or they don't need benefits, and also that they can threaten them. What are the safeguards in place to make sure that these employers are not hiring undocumented workers instead of Americans who are qualified for these low-income jobs?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are some measures that are currently in place to enforce the law and go after those who hire illegal immigrants. And under this proposal, enforcement against companies that break the law and hire illegal workers will only increase. The President will talk about the importance of having strong enforcement action against those who break the law. And the President's employers -- the President's proposal will also force such employers to treat all their employees with the same humane and compassionate treatment under the law that's already afforded to American workers.
Q: So are -- there are guidelines in place, for instance, on farms, maybe farmhands. Are there -- what kind of gauge, how would the federal government be able to able to gauge that for someone to come in on a farm to do work on a farm, to share-crop or whatever?
MR. McCLELLAN: How would they be able to gauge what?
Q: How would the federal government be able to gauge that kind of activity, that they didn't throw -- they didn't give an undocumented worker this position versus someone else from a low-income community?
MR. McCLELLAN: Under this approach we will work to -- work with Congress to make sure that every reasonable effort is made to find an American to fill a job before that job is extended to a foreign worker. There are currently programs in place of that nature, under some of our temporary worker programs that we already have -- some which you may have been referring to. So there's a way to look at that and verify that they've made every reasonable effort to hire an American first, before that job can be filled by a temporary worker from abroad.
Q: If you're in a job and you're here illegally, does it require that your employer be part of the arrangement in order to legalize your status? Or can you apply for that on your own as an illegal worker, and the employer is just used for verification?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the employer would have to document -- I mean, these workers are going to -- and a lot of these are getting into some of the technical details of the proposal, and those are issues that we'll work through with members of Congress as we move forward on this proposal. But there are already measures in place for existing temporary worker programs. And anyone -- what the President will call for is that you will have to document that you are currently working in the United States, or you could be someone from outside the country who has a job offer that was seeking to come here.
Q: But you need the employer just for verification, not that they would have power over the individual to somehow influence whether or not they're approved as a legal worker?
MR. McCLELLAN: The employer would have responsibilities under this approach, as well. An employer has to -- I mean, obviously, they have to document that they have a job or that they have an offer of a job in order to participate in this temporary program.
Q: One other question, if I may. On the -- one of the problems has always been for illegal immigrants, undocumented workers, is that they're paying taxes, they're paying Social Security -- sometimes to a false Social Security number -- but then that money disappears on them. It wasn't clear to me from the background briefing we got last night whether they actually qualify to get that money when they go back to their home country, or whether they simply qualify for the quarters they have worked. Can you clarify that at all?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's -- one of the things that the President will talk about is, because this is a temporary program, we want to -- we expect under this program that people will return to their home country after a period of time, after the job is -- this temporary worker program ends for that individual. And one thing that we should do is provide financial incentives, and that would include what you're talking about, their retirement savings; that we would work with other countries to make sure that they could receive credit for the money that they are putting into their own retirement savings here in the United States, when they return home to their country.
And we'd also look at giving these individuals tax preferred savings accounts, just like we want all Americans to have, so that they could receive some of those benefits when they return to their country of origin. So there's a financial incentive also for them to return to their home country.
Q: And income taxes?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, they will be paying taxes just like everybody else. That's another benefit to this approach that will help make our immigration law more fair.
Q: They will get Social Security, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, they're paying into Social Security right now and they're not getting it. Yes, under this approach one of the incentives for them to return to their home country will be that they'll be able to realize those retirement savings that they were paying here in the United States.
Q: But I mean, they will be under the Social Security system?
MR. McCLELLAN: In fact, we already have -- well, yes, we already have agreements with some 20 countries on allowing people that come here to this country and work to receive those benefits when they go back to their home country.
Q: -- work out with Mexico?
MR. McCLELLAN: We do not have that specific agreement with Mexico right now, we've been in discussion with them informally and we'll work with them more formally to move forward on that.
Q: What is the administration's estimate of the number of undocumented workers who might be eligible for this temporary work program?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the estimates are that there are some 8 million people in this country illegally, and in terms of how many workers are there, we just don't know that number. That's why under this approach you would have to document that you are currently working in the United States as a first step.
Q: So for those eight million people, as you point out, this temporary program envisions that most of them will go home. The deal for those considering their future under this program is that they sign up for this temporary worker program, they come out of the shadows and get benefits and they get rights and status of a legal worker, and they'll have to go home at the end of the day, most likely. For a lot of them, wasn't the main reason for them coming to the United States because they wanted to come to the United States?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think for a lot of people, why they come to the United States and seek employment here is because they're seeking to improve their life or the lives of their family. And that's one of the things the President will talk about, as well. The best way to address the issue of people coming to this country illegally, because a large number of them are coming here seeking a better way of life, is to reduce the pressures back in their home country that forced them to seek a better way of life. And that is by improving economic opportunities in their own countries. And one way we can do that is through expanding free trade. And that's one of the issues.
Q: But that's a long-term problem, obviously. For the worker in this country looking at this program, they're really looking at a kind of slow deportation. They're really looking at -- they'll sign up for a three-year program, there are 8 million of them -- or there are millions of them, not that many green cards, not that many citizenship slots, and for the vast majority of them, by signing up for this program, they are guaranteeing that at some point they'll go home --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think I'd look at it that way at all. I mean, one, the program is for three years, but it's renewable. But we envision that at some point it would end and that they would return home to their country. They have a lot of reasons to come forward and be here legally. They will be afforded the protections that others currently have right now that they don't. There are many that are maybe facing exploitation and being abused in their current environment. They will also be contributing back to the society by doing what everybody else does in America, pay taxes.
So you have to look at all that aspect. There's every incentive for them to come -- they can return back -- now they will be able to go and return back and forth between their home country and America. They'll be able to go back and see their families and then return, legally, to continue working in their job. They can't do that right now, so they have every incentive for them to come forward and participate in this program and receive the protections and benefits afforded to others.
Q: You keep saying this is not an amnesty. Yet you're clearly going to forgive these people, you're not going to prosecute them. How is that not an amnesty?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, temporary workers will have to --the legal status for these workers would, as Terry pointed out, expire after three years with the ability to be renewed. Then they would have to either return home or apply for a green card under existing law. And that's unlike the blanket amnesty that was enacted in 1996 (1986). Amnesty rewards undocumented workers, or undocumented immigrants with an automatic path to citizenship. The President's plan would not give the temporary workers any unfair advantage. They would have to go through the normal existing process.
Q: You're saying that it's not the same program as --
MR. McCLELLAN: They can go through the citizenship path right now.
Q: Clearly it's not the same program as '96, but it is a form of amnesty, is it not?
MR. McCLELLAN: Amnesty, again, amnesty is rewarding undocumented immigrants who are here in this country with an automatic path to citizenship. This does not do that. This is a temporary worker program. This does not give them permanent residence status. And this program envisions them returning back to their home country and contributing back to their own country.
Q: Can you clarify a couple of things about the time frames here? First of all, how many times would this be renewed? And are you assuming that it's one three-year renewal, so that there's a maximum of six years?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's the way, and the President will talk in his -- will spell out in his remarks that he sees it as being a program that would exist for three years, it would be renewable, but that it would end at some point. We will work with Congress on some of those specific issues that you were talking about, and that's one of them that we will work closely with Congress on as we move forward.
Q: Okay. Does that apply to the law itself or just to the individual cases? In other words, do you envision the law itself expiring so that it would --
MR. McCLELLAN: We are talking about a temporary worker program that would last for three years for that individual.
Q: Right, but beyond the individuals, would this program exist in perpetuity.
MR. McCLELLAN: What do you mean?
Q: -- there are always waves of new people who would want to do this, presumably.
MR. McCLELLAN: Right.
Q: Would this law be in effect 10 years from now to allow workers to be matched up with willing employers?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think, again, we're going to move forward and work with Congress on all the technical aspects. But we envisioned this as a new temporary program -- temporary worker program that would be in place to meet the need that is there -- the economic need that is there to match willing workers with willing employers who are unable to find an American to fill that particular job. So this program will be put in place, and it will be available to those who are currently here that are undocumented and working in the United States and filling a job that was not filled by an American for whatever reason, and those who can show that they have an employment here in the United States and seek to come here from abroad.
Q: On a slightly different question, how, if at all, does this approach differ from what you were considering before 9/11?
MR. McCLELLAN: How does it differ? I think this is the extension of -- this is the moving forward on what we talked about previously. If you go back to September -- I'm sorry, probably February of 2001, the President traveled to Mexico; he met with President Fox; they discussed the importance of having a more orderly, safe, humane, and legal migration policy. That's something the President has been long committed to, going back to his days as governor of Texas. He believes very strongly that this is the right policy to bring about a more fair immigration law and a more secure country for the American people.
And so this is what started then. Of course, then we had September 11th and the attacks of September 11th, we had to address some immediate needs there in terms of strengthening our border security and refocusing our efforts on meeting the new threats of the 21st century, specifically terrorists and terrorist attacks. And then we are also working to improve our immigration infrastructure. So this is an outgrowth of what started early on in this administration.
Q: But had 9/11 not happened, this program is more or less what we would have seen in 2001?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's such a hypothetical. Nine-eleven did happen. We obviously worked and went and consolidated all our border control agencies under one roof.
Q: But I'm talking about your general approach as far as immigration is concerned.
MR. McCLELLAN: This is coming out of the initial discussions the President had early on in this administration. I don't think you can set aside September 11th. This all goes together. And by bringing about a new temporary program and identifying who is in this country, by giving these undocumented workers a chance to become legal, then we have a better sense of who is in this country, and that helps improve the security of this nation, as well.
Q: Scott, two questions; one on immigration. Let's say somebody doesn't find jobs in this country, what will happen to them? They will be deportable? And also at the same time, what is the future of immigration law pending, 245, I-245 and other laws pending, one is including President Bush?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q: What will happen, what is the future of those pending immigration laws, like I-245?
MR. McCLELLAN: Obviously, we continue to work on those initiatives that we have advocated in the past. But in terms of asking what happens to those who don't have a job here, obviously, if there are people here illegally, we have laws in place and we are working to enforce those laws and we will continue to work to enforce those laws. And this will help us enforce our immigration laws even more.
Q: -- on a different issue?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, let's stay on this issue for now, and then I'll come back.
Q: There is the belief out there that this is a measure to aid the Hispanic community. I assume it applies to any nationality, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.
Q: Everybody is covered under the same law.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.
Q: You said that this is called a temporary working bill, or whatever you're going to propose. We're talking three years, renewable we don't know how many times, but at the end of whatever time is renewable, these people face a choice, they either have to go back or go under the existing laws and try to legalize their status. Right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Correct.
Q: Okay. The only way to legalize your status in this country is if you have relatives who will petition for you --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's right, you have to have someone sponsor you, petition you. That's the way it is right now, that's the way it would be under this program.
Q: -- or if you win a lottery -- they're saying it's a visa lottery. If not, these people would have to go back. So basically what Terry was saying, these people will come out of the shadows to have the ability to work three, six, maybe nine years, and then they're looking to go back home, unless they marry somebody or have relatives.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think there are many that would like to be able to return home and this --
Q: I'm not sure --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- because they have families back home that right now that they cannot go back and forth to visit under current law. I mean, if they try to leave this country now and then try to re-enter, they might not be able to. This would allow them to go back and forth between their country of origin and America.
Q: My question is, what about a guy, let's say, gets under this visa, applies for this temporary visa, works for three years, but he's got a wife who's also raising two kids; the wife isn't legal, doesn't have a job; the kids, obviously, are in school or whatever. What happens to the wife? Does she go back to Mexico or wherever?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, under this approach, which is not unsimilar to other temporary worker programs, if they can show that they can provide for their family, they would be able to bring their families here and support their families.
Q: -- experience with other temporary worker programs in that at the expiration of the temporary status, that they do, in fact, which to go back to their country of origin? Is there some statistic that leads you to believe that many of these people --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, remember what I said, that the best way to address the issue of people coming here illegally to seek a better way of life is to improve growth and opportunity in their countries of origin. And that's one reason expanding free trade is important.
Q: I understand that. But the current situation, absent the expansion of free trade that you advocate, have you statistic to show that these folks do, in fact, after a period go back --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't have specific statistics, no. But I think there are people here that are separated from their families now. And one of the aspects of immigration policy is family unity. And that's why if they can show that they can support their families, they could bring their families here. But I think there are many people that would like to probably return home to be back with their families or be in their country of origin if they could do so.
Right now, they are -- there are some people that are in this country illegally, trying to support their families back home. This will allow them to come out of the shadows and receive the same kind of protections that other workers have. And it will allow them to travel back and forth to visit their families and support their families in that way, and then come back and continue their job.
Q: You said the President does not want to support breaking the law, but how is this not supporting breaking the law if you're telling people you were doing something illegal and you say, okay, well, now it's legal? Doesn't that say it's okay to break the law and it will be in the future?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said that our current immigration laws are not working. We have a large number of illegal immigrants in this country. We also have an important economic need that we can meet. And this addresses a lot of those issues and it will discourage further illegal entry by providing incentives, such as some of the things that I've mentioned. People will be able to go back and forth between their country of origin and the United States. They'll have work place enforcement action in place that they can -- against those who violate the laws. And they will be able to come forward and to report any abuses or exploitation.
Q: If the law is not working, then it's okay to break them, essentially.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q: You said the immigration law is not working. That underlines the point. And the President is saying, well --
MR. McCLELLAN: The President is looking at this as a way to continue to build on a tradition, long tradition of being a welcoming society and a compassionate society, and meeting an important economic need. This is about meeting an important economic need. And that's why what we're talking here is creating a temporary worker program. It would be a temporary program. And the program would envision those individuals returning home after they had finished that program.
Go ahead. Is this on immigration?
Q: Yes, it is. Page one of The Washington Times this morning reports a tripling of border patrol agents along the Canadian border. And my question is why is there no report of tripling of border patrol agents along the Mexican border, which would surely reduce the number of illegals? And I have a follow-up.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Les, as a matter of fact, we have taken a number of steps to strengthen our border security. One of them is hiring a significant number of additional agents on the borders. We have been working closely with Canada and Mexico on border security issues. We continue to do that. And another reason that we will be more secure is that we will be able to now account for those who enter our country, instead of the current situation which allows for millions of people to come to this country unknown to us and be in this country.
Q: Could you tell us specifically of any benefit at all from the U.S. taxpayers $820 million for the latest trip to Mars other than clear pictures of an arid landscape, which The Washington Post op-ed page this morning called, mission to nowhere?
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll come back to immigration. I think there's some more questions on immigration, but I would --
Q: You will come back?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, let me tell you right now. I would reiterate that the President is a strong supporter of the exploration of space. And there are many benefits that we have realized from exploring space. And so the President -- and I think that yesterday --
Q: What benefits?
MR. McCLELLAN: And NASA can outline a lot of them where you're learning more about issues such as climate change, where you're learning more -- we learn more about the universe itself, and that helps improve our knowledge in many different areas. And one of the primary missions of the Rover Spirit, and the Rover Opportunity which will be joining it in short order, is to look at whether or not there was the possibility for any life on Mars long ago. And so that's one of the important missions that it will fulfill. And there's many benefits that come from space when we explore space. We've already realized many of those benefits from previous missions.
Q: Scott, the AFL-CIO has historically been opposed to temporary worker programs. And a spokesman there yesterday reiterated his opposition, saying they thought that the kind of proposal that the President is likely to recommend today would undermine worker rights and would result in a decline in wages for the American workers. What's your response --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think it will improve their protections and improve their rights, by giving them legal status. That's exactly the -- one of the purposes of the law.
Q: And this argument that it will result over time in a decline in the American wage base or American workers wage -- unionized workers wage base?
MR. McCLELLAN: I dismiss that. There are a number of jobs in this country that Americans are not filling, for whatever reason. And this provides an opportunity for those who want to come here from abroad to fill those jobs and help strengthen our economy even more. There's an economic -- this is an important economic need that we are working to address here. And we're also working to bring about a more compassionate and fair immigration policy that will afford protections to those workers.
Q: The current bill pending in Congress would require that an undocumented worker pay a $1,500 penalty before they get such a temporary visa, sort of as an acknowledgment that they've been here illegally. Would the President support that?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President, in his remarks, will talk about that those who are here -- those undocumented workers currently here will have to, one, show that they are working currently, and that they will have to pay a registration fee in order to participate in this program. Again, one of the principles is that we shouldn't be rewarding illegal behavior and giving an unfair advantage to people.
Q: Would you characterize it -- is it a registration fee, or somewhat of a penalty?
MR. McCLELLAN: I would characterize it as a fee. That's what -- the President will describe it as a registration fee to participate in this program.
Q: And the second thing, the issue about since this policy envisions that people will return home, the critics -- for instance, Cecilia Munoz of La Raza has said, the White House is asking people to sign up for a program that is more likely to ensure their departure than ensure their permanent --
MR. McCLELLAN: We talked about that with Terry a little bit earlier.
Q: Given that, do you have any sense, then, whether there will be a backlash by Hispanics then about a proposal, when they feel that it's going to more likely ensure their departure, rather than give them a chance to put them on a path --
MR. McCLELLAN: I totally disagree with that characterization. I don't accept the premise of your question in the first place. There's nothing that prevents them from pursuing a permanent residence status. Of course, there is nothing at this point that prevents them from pursuing permanent residence status or a green card. This would allow them to seek a path to citizenship if they so chose, just as they could right now if they so chose.
Q: How close are the plans on the Hill to what the President is calling for?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I think you need to let the President -- and we're going to provide you with some more information here shortly, a fact sheet that will provide a little more detail. But what I'm talking about is what the President is putting forward. Obviously, there are some pieces of legislation that have some elements of what the President will be talking about, and we look forward to working with members of Congress to pass legislation that is based on the specific principles that I mentioned at the top of this briefing.
Q: How do you plan to -- how does the President plan to win over opponents, particularly those in his own party who are opposed to both the content and the spirit -- how can a President who campaigned on restoring honesty and integrity to the White House justify essentially rewarding some 8 million people who entered the country illegally and are continuing breaking the law?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think we went through that. One, he will talk about how America has a long tradition of being a welcoming society. We are a nation of immigrants. Immigrants have made many important contributions to this country. We are better and stronger because of the many contributions from immigrants. And that is one of the defining strengths of this country.
There is an important economic need in this country that this program will help meet, and that's important to keep in mind. We're talking about an economic need here. But our immigration -- and the President believes very strongly that we should have an immigration policy that is fair and compassionate, and an immigration policy that helps make America more secure. And that's what you will hear him outline in his remarks, the reasoning behind all of this. He feels very strongly that this is a right policy and that this will improve our immigration laws.
Q: Scott, what are your thoughts to those who are saying this is actually -- this immigration proposal or policy is taking away from those who are on unemployment rolls here in this country, and those who are saying that those on the unemployment rolls need to get the jobs first, and then you deal with the immigrants?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I think I stated at the beginning -- well, you have temporary worker programs are already in place and employers would have to make very reasonable effort to hire Americans first. And we will work with Congress to make sure that there are ways to verify this. I think I talked about this a few minutes ago, as well. There are currently ways, under temporary worker programs in place now, that require employers to demonstrate that they have tested the market to ensure that there are no Americans available to fill that particular job. And so there are ways that we test the market and they vary among different programs.
Q: Can I follow up to that question? What do you say to those who are on the unemployment rolls right now, who are feeling that this is just totally unfair to them, that they need chance after chance to get a job? What do you say to them?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, we have a growing economy because of the decisive action that the President of the United States took to bring this economy out of a recession that he inherited. This economy is continuing to grow and strengthen. And there are jobs being created over the last few months; there have been some -- more than 300,000 jobs that have been created. The President has a comprehensive plan that we have been pursuing to strengthen our economic even more. It's a six-point plan that will continue to strengthen our economy even more than it already is and create a more robust environment for job creation.
What we're talking about under this temporary worker program is jobs that Americans are not willing to take, for whatever reason. That's what this is about. There are people currently in these jobs that are undocumented. And now we're going to bring about a process from which they can gain legal status, and they can enjoy protections that other workers have. But these companies and employers will have to show that they made a reasonable effort to hire Americans first.
Q: Scott, did you talk to the President about Pete Rose?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes -- are we on immigration still? I'll come back. Immigration still.
Q: One more on it. Scott --
MR. McCLELLAN: One more.
Q: Okay. The INS is already --
MR. McCLELLAN: Two more.
Q: -- notorious for being unable to enforce immigration laws that already exist, in terms of carrying -- tracking down illegal immigrants, deportations, just the normal paperwork. Does this measure, if passed, presage a growth in the bureaucracy to handle it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, Rick, I think that there's a lot of efforts being spent now trying to track down illegal immigrants who are currently in this country. There are a large number of illegal immigrants who are in this country. And this temporary worker program will bring about many benefits to our nation. It will -- we'll be able to better account for those who enter our country, instead of the current situation. Law enforcement will be able to focus on the true threats our nations face from criminals and from terrorists. And when temporary workers can travel legally and freely, there will be more efficient management of our borders and more effective enforcement of those who pose a danger to our country. So I think this will bring about a -- not only a more fair immigration law, but a more efficient enforcement.
Q: Won't there be the necessity for more people and new mechanisms put into place to manage this program?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are already a lot of resources that are being used to try to prevent people that are coming into this country illegally to seek these jobs. So I think that this will help bring about many benefits to this country in the ways that I just described.
Immigration still? Immigration? Immigration?
Q: Patrick Buchanan just weighed in on this. He calls it, Bush's betrayal of working Americans, in his most recent column. He says the policy was created by Karl Rove to corner the Hispanic vote -- "The President is buying Hispanic votes by selling out the white working class, which presumably has no where else to go." And then he says, "Working America has no powerful voice in politics. Both Democrats and Republicans are open borders, free trade zealots who troll for cash from corporate America and burn their incense at the alters of the global economy." So what -- and he says America needs a new party as a result. What was Karl Rove's involvement with this policy?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's a senior advisor to the President. The President's the one who made the decision to move forward on this policy. The President has a long record of working to bring about a more humane, safe, orderly, and legal migration. This goes back to his days as governor of Texas. The President is the one who makes decisions in this administration. Certainly Karl is a senior advisor to the President of the United States --
Q: Was it his idea?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is the President's idea. This is the President's policy.
Any more on immigration? Okay. Go ahead, Randy.
Q: The President -- did you talk to the President about Pete Rose's acknowledgement that he bet on baseball? And does the President think he should be reinstated?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President believes that it's a matter for Major League Baseball.
Q: What about Gibbs, and the Redskins?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.
Q: The Center for Strategic Studies has published a report. They say that it costs about a billion dollars a week to put the country on orange alert. Has the federal government done any studies on the economic impact of going on orange alert, and does that influence your decision, make you more reluctant or more conservative to make that move to raise security when there's such a cost associated with it?
MR. McCLELLAN: The decisions we make when it comes to the threat level are based on protecting the American people and doing everything we can to prevent a terrorist attack from happening in the first place. That is the reason we have a threat level in place. Raising the threat level, one of the things that it does when you raise the threat level, based on the consensus judgment of all those involved in our homeland security, is that it helps deter attacks from happening, as well, and encourages people to be more vigilant, and it helps us deter attacks from happening in the first place.
Q: Do you have any idea of how much it costs to raise the security level across the country?
MR. McCLELLAN: What's most important, when it comes to homeland security, is protecting the American people and making sure that we are doing everything we can to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. And that is our priority. That is where our focus is. Obviously there are costs associated with that. I don't have any analysis of what those are.
Q: Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.
END 1:21 P.M. EST
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