Comprehensive Immigration Reform for a Growing Economy
In January 2004, President Bush called upon Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform that would secure our borders, meet our economic needs, and uphold our best traditions as an immigrant nation. In response, the House and Senate will soon begin the difficult task of reconciling two starkly different immigration bills. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, a prominent member of the president's economic team and an immigrant himself, has called on Congress to pass an immigration bill that not only protects our borders but also recognizes the needs of a growing economy. In a major address, the secretary will explain why reform must include a temporary worker program and a "hard-earned path to legalization" for undocumented workers already in the United States- Cato Institute
Daniel T. Griswold
Daniel T. Griswold is director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies. Since joining Cato in 1997, he has authored or coauthored major studies on globalization, the World Trade Organization, the U.S. trade deficit, trade and democracy, immigration, and other subjects.
Griswold's October 2002 paper "Willing Workers: Fixing the Problem of Illegal Mexican Migration to the United States" was used in the Flake-Kolbe-McCain immigration bill in 2003, which President Bush drew upon in early 2004 as the basis for his guest worker program. Griswold has testified before congressional committees and federal agencies on immigration, the trade deficit, steel trade, and the costs of protectionism.
Earlier in his career, he served as a congressional press secretary and the editorial page editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette. Griswold has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, and other publications, and has appeared on C-SPAN, CNN, PBS, BBC, and Fox News Channel. He holds a MS in the politics of the world economy from the London School of Economics.
Secretary Carlos Gutierrez
Carlos Miguel Gutierrez (originally Gutiérrez) (born November 4, 1953) is an American former CEO and former U.S. Cabinet Member who is currently a Vice Chairman of Citigroup's Institutional Clients Group. He has previously served as the 35th U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 2005 to 2009. Gutierrez is a former Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Kellogg Company.
Thank you, Dan. For that very kind introduction.I appreciate the opportunity to speak at the Cato Institute.The Institute is known for supporting individual liberty and free markets,among other important principles.ou also encourage intelligent debate on important issues of our day.I appreciate that, and your efforts to promote a robust and competitive economydriven by free economic principles. Thank you for everything you do.Before I begin, I just want to talk about Cuba since it has been on the news.At a time of great uncertainty, we want to let the people of Cuba know that we affirm our commitmentwhen a transition government committed to democracy is in placewe will provide aid, in areas such as food and medicine, economic recovery, and free and fair elections.The people of Cuba have a choice: economic and political freedom and opportunity,or more political repression and economic suffering under the current regime.We pledge to help them attain political and economic liberty.We pledge to extend a hand of friendship and support as they build a democratic government,a strong economy and a brighter tomorrow for their families and their country.And we pledge to discourage third parties from obstructing the will of the Cuban people.And let me be very clear at this next point:The United States and our citizens pose no threatto the security or the homes of the Cuban people.President Bush recognizes that Cuba belongs to the Cuban peopleand that the future of Cuba is in the hands of Cubans.And we continue to be concerned about the importance of the Cuban peopleobserving safe, orderly, and legal plans for migration.Now, let's talk about immigration.I believe immigration is the domestic social issue of our time -- and a key to our future economic health.America has dealt with difficult immigration issues in the past.There have been large waves of immigrants from Asia,Western Europe, and Eastern Europe, throughout our history.In fact, proportionately, we have fewer foreign-born people living in the United Statestoday than we did in 1890. In 1890, 14.8 percent of our population was foreign-born.In 2004, 12 percent was foreign born.So, the challenges of immigration are not new for America,and I believe they create tremendous opportunities.We are competing in a global economy.Many countries, including Germany, China, and Japan, willface declining populations in the future.All major industrial economies are experiencing substantial growth in their populationaged 65 and over. By 2025, the median age of German citizens will increase from 39 to 50 years old.Japan will also see a 46 percent growth in this age group by 2020.The U.S. will also see our median age growing from 34 to 43.And every 60 seconds, a baby boomer turns 60.But what separates us from other nations is our ability to assimilateimmigrants and incorporate them into our workforce.From 2000 to 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that total U.S. populationgrew by more than 12 million. Forty four percent of the growth resulted from immigration.We have an incredible advantage. We can stand out from the pack by using ourwell-honed skills from 230 years of assimilating immigrants.But to address the challenges of illegal immigration, take advantage of the opportunities, andstrengthen our country for the rest of the century, we must show leadership.We must face reality. We must deal with immigration as it is, not as we wish it were.We must thoughtfully work through the issues, and avoid letting emotion take over the debate.I am encouraged that we are starting to reach some consensus:Recently, more than 500 of our nation's top economists, including five Nobel Laureates, sent a letter to President Bushand all members of Congress. These economists (with diverse political views)stated unequivocally that immigration has been a net gain for American citizens.And two-thirds of American voters say they support bills that include a temporary worker programor path to citizenship, rather than one that focuses solely on border security.President Bush's vision for comprehensive immigration reform:Protects our borders -- Our immigration system can't work if we can't control our borders.It recognizes the needs of a growing economy.Our economy is growing faster than any other large, industrialized nation.The reality is that we have jobs that American citizens either aren't willing to or aren't available to do.Our unemployment rate is below the average of the past four decades.I continually hear from industries that they are having difficulty finding workers.We need sources of labor from other countries to fill jobs that aren't getting filled.The President's proposal upholds our values. We are both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.Priority number one in the President's comprehensive proposal is securing our borders.The President has proposed: Increasing the number of Border Patrol agents from 12,000 to 18,000;Increasing the amount of technology we have at the borders, so we can know who is coming through;And improving processes to become more efficient.In May, President Bush committed 6,000 National Guard troops to our Southwest border states.This week, we will have 6,000 National Guard members supporting Border Patrol agentsalong our borders as promised. The Guard's efforts are already making a positive difference.It is also helping that the Department of Homeland Security has stopped the practice of "catch and release,"with every population except for one, and instead is using "catch and remove."Already the number of captured illegal immigrants has fallen by 45 percent since spring -- as fewer crossings are attempted during a normally high-volume season.And there's been a 7 percent drop in immigrant deaths in the desert, compared with last year.Clearly, the message is out that we have stepped up security at our border.One of the best ways to secure our borders is to have immigration enforcement inside our countryin the interior. And this is something that we all need to understand.Sometimes this insight is lost in the immigration debate.We need effective interior enforcement. That may be the best way to secure our borders.Clearly, our system needs to be fixed.We have an underground industry built on producing false documentation for illegal workers.Employers have a hard time helping enforce the law because they are not surewhat documents they should require. A Government Accountability Office reportlast year found that document fraud and the large number of documents acceptable for provingwork eligibility have caused significant confusion among employers.The rules must be clear enough to hold businesses accountable for hiring peoplewith the proper documentation. With comprehensive reform,we will ensure that businesses have the tools they need todo this, and that we can hold them accountable.That's why we need a temporary worker's program.It would create a legal means for workers to enter the United States for a limited time.And we need a biometric card identification system.We have the technology today to quickly and effectively use a person's unique characteristics,such as a fingerprint, to verify immigration status.I happen to have a copy here, or an example of a biometric card,with someone fingerprints on it. Its made out to test specimen.But here is the idea. Its as easy as this.Fingerprint on the front. This cannot be forged. It cannot be tampered.And when you know this is the documentation people should be looking for,and employers should demand this specific card, and over time, over time it will becomevery unlikely that people will risk there lives coming across the border illegally,if it is well known that unless you have this card you will not find a job.That is one of the most consequential things we can do to make our borders more secure.And it demonstrates the wisdom of comprehensive immigration reform.Everyone agrees that we have to put more pressure on the border, but what we need tounderstand is that we need to do more than simply control the border.When we have a biometric system -- and we have a temporary worker's program -- dynamics will change.The other reality we must confront is that we have 12 million people who are in the country illegally.This issue will not be resolved by ignoring it, or waiting longer to confront it.The longer we wait to face the issue, the more complicated it will get.And the more difficult the solution will be.Think about the task of deporting 12 millions individuals.Is that something we are going to do as a country?Can you see us looking back 20-30 years from now?How would we feel about that period of time?The President has said it wouldn't be wise, practical, or humane.Frankly, It would not be American.It would require separating parents from their 3 million American-born children.12 million undocumented workers have 3 million U.S. born children,who happen to be U.S. citizens. I have heard the question asked,what would you do about the children?Some say the children could decide if they go with their parents or stay.Its a very simple thing to say. A lot of these kids don't know any other country but the U.S.They play little league at school, they are in the school play, they may not even knowthat their parents don't have the right documentation to be here.You can't just say let the kids decide. Can you imagine that?That is not a solution it is an extreme.Mass deportation is an extreme position, and we have learned asa country that the right solution, is rarely found in the extreme. It is somewhere in the middle.So mass deportation is one extreme. The other extreme is amnesty.The dictionary defines amnesty as an "unconditional pardonobliterating all memory of the offense." The President does not supportamnesty, and it's not accurate or fair to call his solution amnesty.The President has never proposed amnesty.His plan is not amnesty, and it is not accurate to call his plan amnesty.We're talking about having a hard-earned path to legalization, which would require meeting conditions:People waiting their turn in line, wait their turn for legalization and that could take many many years.Paying fines, paying taxes, learning english, undergoing a criminal background check, and having a job.There is no guarantee. And there is no certainty of legalization.Some argue that we are simply repeating the mistakes of the Immigration Reform and Control Act,which passed Congress in 1986. I want to make it perfectly clear thatthe President's proposal addresses the shortcomings of the 1986 law.The 1986 law missed the importance of strengthening border security.The President has deployed the National Guard and is doubling the number of Border Patrol agents.The 1986 law didn't address what draws illegal immigrants to cross our borders:that people are coming here to work. It didn't provide a Temporary Workers Programto allow those who want to work and return to do so.It didn't provide that opportunity.And it did not provide a legal means to address the needs of American businesses.Today, we have technology that was not available in 1986. With biometric cards and the Basic Pilotsystem, we can hold employers accountable to verify their workers' status.The 1986 law was not followed by any real enforcement.In contrast, the President is calling for more criminal sanctions, instead of just administrative fines.And the 1986 law provided amnesty for 3 million illegal immigrants.As I said, the President opposes amnesty, and believes people must earn any legalization.Earlier this month, 33 conservative leaders wrote,"The best way -- the only way -- to realize President Reagan's visionbecause the 1986 law was done under Reagan,is through comprehensive immigration reform legislation."The issues of illegal immigration are far too complex to presume they can be solved with one easy action.or to be solved with one word in a ten second sound-byte.It is a complex issue. It requires people to sit down,think things through, work through it, and work out the details.What we need is leadership and reasonable compromise in the middle.We need to be talking about the right mix of immigration reform that addresses all the issuesand acknowledges that extremes aren't viable.As long as we continue to talk about the extremes, and adopt the positionof the extremes, we are not going to make any progress.Just last week, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Representative Mike Penceoffered an intriguing proposal. It provides for strong border security,while also recognizing our economy's need for temporary workers.Their proposal acknowledges that we must secure our borders to secure our nation.The President has already taken bold steps in this direction.Obviously, there are many details to be worked out.And this is all about details. This is not about athirty foot view, thats going to make the difference.What we learned in 1986 is that what is going to make the differenceis working through the details and then executing those details flawlessly.That is what is going to make the difference, not continued talk about the issue.Obviously we need to work out a lot of things.I met with Senator Hutchison and Congressman Pence, and they both believe their proposalis a starting point. We encourage the House and Senate to continue talking,and to continue this rational approach to finding solutions.The other important point that President Bush makes is that we are a nation of immigrants.And immigrants have helped make this country great.Immigrants have really built this country.And immigrants have made the U.S. The greatest country in the world.All of us here today unless you are Native Americanare immigrants or descendants of immigrants.It wouldn't be right to say or assume, that immigration was fine when our parents came over,or our grandparents came over, or it is no longer fine.We were a nation of immigrants for the first 230 years,but somehow in the future, we are just going to cut that off.Those voices have been heard in our past before.That philosophy has been prevalent in debates throughout our history.Fortunately, wisdom and tolerance has always prevailed.I'll give you my personal perspective: I came to this country in 1960 from Cuba.I was a six-year-old immigrant. On January 4, 1966, I formally became a U.S. citizen.To this day, my U.S. passport is my most valued material possession.I'm extremely grateful that people encouraged -- even pushed me -- to learn the language to be part of society and assimilate.I'm very grateful people didn't let me off the hook.And that people didn't tell me that I didn't need to learn English.And we are doing people a disservice if we tell them they can be successful in thiscountry without learning English. That is all apart of comprehensive reform.And as the President has said if you learn English,you can go from cleaning an office to running an office.That is the ticket to a better future, it needs to be said and it needs to be recognized.I'm also very thankful for the opportunities this country has given me.I believe that immigrants today just want an opportunity.That is all immigrants have asked for, not a hand out,just simply an opportunity for a better life.It is a false choice to think the immigration debate is a battle betweenAmerica being a welcoming society and being a nation of laws.It is also a false choice to think that this is either about you believe in controlling the border oryou believe in a temporary workers' program. Actually we need to do both.Doing one without the other is insufficient. Doing one without the otherwill find us in a similar problem down the road in four or five years.I ask you to commit yourself to comprehensive immigration reform.Because it is the only was to solve our immigration challenges and turn them into opportunities.We all need to contribute to the solution.And I would hope that we are all involved in trying to find the solution.Comprehensive immigration reform will make our country stronger,and I'm convinced that future generations will be proud of what we did in our time.Thank you, and God bless you.And now, I'll be glad to take your questions.