[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[February 7, 1995]
[Pages 167-169]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on the Immigration Policy Initiative and an Exchange With 
February 7, 1995

    The President. Good morning. Two years ago, when I took office, I 
was determined to do a better job of dealing with the problem of illegal 
immigration. About 2 years ago this week, when I discussed with Janet 
Reno the possibility of her becoming Attorney General, we had a talk 
about this, and for the last 2 years we have been hard at work to try to 
fix a system that everyone agreed had serious problems.
    The Vice President and I have just been briefed by Attorney General 
Reno; Doris Meissner, the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization 
Service; our Secretary of Labor, Bob Reich; Maria Echaveste, the 
Director of the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department; 
Silvestre Reyes, Chief Border Patrol Agent of the El Paso Sector; Gus de 
la Vina, the Director of the Western Region of the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service; Doug Crum, the U.S. Border Patrol Chief; and 
George Weise, our Customs Commissioner.
    After our meeting, I signed a Presidential directive to the heads of 
all executive departments instructing them to very quickly expand and 
strengthen our program to reduce illegal immigration in four key areas: 
first, protecting our borders; second, protecting the interests of our 
workers in the workplace; third, removing more criminal aliens; and 
fourth, providing more assistance to the States which are burdened with 
the problem of illegal immigration.
    For example, I've asked the Attorney General to increase those 
elements of our Border Patrol strategy that are proving most effective, 
including the use of helicopters, night scopes, and all-terrain 
vehicles. I've asked the members of the Cabinet to create for the first 
time a national detention and removal plan to dramatically increase the 
identification and removal of deportable illegal aliens. These are just 
a few examples, and of course you'll get more in a moment when the 
people behind me give a more extensive background briefing.
    One of the cornerstones of our fight against illegal immigration has 
been a get-tough policy at our borders. We initiated Operation Hold the 
Line at El Paso, Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego, and Operation 
Safeguard in Arizona, all with one clear intention, to secure the 
Southwest border. As we speak, these initiatives are making a 
substantial difference. Illegal immigration is down; crime is down. And 
my budget in immigration strategy builds on that success. Here are the 
elements of the initiative:
    First, I have asked Congress for an additional $1 billion to fight 
illegal immigration in the

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coming fiscal year. I want to emphasize that while most of the talk 
yesterday was about cutting the budget, and we do have $140 billion in 
budget cuts, there are some things we should spend more money on. We 
recommended spending more money on education, on medical research in 
AIDS, on crime, in the community policing bill, on veterans interests. 
And we recommended a billion more dollars to fight illegal immigration. 
Under the budgets already passed, we've added 1,000 new Border Patrol 
agents just in the Southwest. By the end of 1996, our administration 
will have increased overall border personnel by 51 percent since 1993.
    Second, I've asked for more funds to protect American jobs by 
increasing the number of workplace investigators by 85 percent. Our 
administration will begin to test different methods of helping employers 
verify a worker's employment authorization. This was, as I'm sure you'll 
remember, one of the key recommendations of the Jordan commission. 
Barbara Jordan wanted to be here with us today, but in pursuit of that 
commission's work, she is traveling the country. She has sent us a 
letter endorsing the proposals in this package.
    The fact is that employer sanctions have been in the law on illegal 
immigration since 1986, but no prior administration has made a serious 
attempt to enforce them. With this budget and with legislation I will 
soon be sending to Congress, we will be able to crack down on employers 
who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. If we turn off the employment 
stream for illegal workers, far, far fewer of them will risk the 
difficult journey here.
    Incidentally, our financial support package for Mexico will also, 
over the long run, reduce pressure on illegal immigration. With a 
healthier economy, the Mexican people will find more opportunities for 
jobs at home.
    Thirdly, I have asked for new funds to double the deportation of 
criminal aliens next year and to triple them by 1996.
    And finally, ours is the first administration to reimburse States 
for a share of the costs that they bear related to illegal immigration, 
including the incarceration of illegal aliens. I've asked Congress for a 
total of $550 million for State reimbursement; that more than doubles 
the fund that now exists.
    Whether through the budget, the directive I've just signed, or the 
legislation I will soon send to the Congress, our goals are the same: 
tougher border enforcement, more protection for American workers, faster 
deportation of criminal aliens, additional assistance to the States. 
That's a comprehensive strategy that is already beginning to work and 
that will work much better if this plan is implemented by the 
administration and by the Congress. We need help from the Congress to 
implement this plan.
    I want Congress to move quickly on this issue, just as we have moved 
quickly on a number of fronts. I am proud at the speed that the INS 
showed recently in moving 62 Border Patrol agents in 24 hours to 
Nogales, Arizona, to reinforce that border. In the future, if our budget 
becomes law, that kind of movement won't be necessary. For the first 
time ever there will be a rapid response team to enable the Border 
Patrol to react quickly to buildups at any particular border spots.
    We've accomplished a lot in just 2 years. As I said in the State of 
the Union, we are a nation of immigrants, and we should all be proud of 
it. But we're also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-
defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our 
immigration laws that we have seen in recent years. There is too much of 
it, and we must do much more to stop it.
    Thank you very much.

Surgeon General Nominee Foster

    Q. Mr. President, have you cleared up the conflicting statements 
about Dr. Foster and abortions?
    The President. I believe that they've been cleared up, and I 
certainly support him.

Note: The President spoke at 11:23 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the 
White House. The memorandum is listed in Appendix D at the end of this 

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