- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2001


CRAWFORD, Texas — President Bush yesterday urged Americans to "respect" the illegal immigration of Mexicans who "walk across miles of desert to do work that some Americans won't do," but shrugged off suggestions that he is wooing Hispanic voters.
Mr. Bush made his remarks during a wide-ranging news conference, in which he also warned Congress not to go "hog wild" on spending and called on the United Nations not to "pick on" Israel.
At the Crawford Community Center near his 1,600-acre ranch, the president signaled that he might grant residency status to Mexicans who illegally entered the U.S. and obtained jobs. But he insisted he would not grant blanket amnesty to all 3 million Mexicans illegally living in the United States.
"There are people in Mexico who've got children, who worry about where they're going to get their next meal from," Mr. Bush said in response to questions from The Washington Times.
"And they're going to come to the United States if they think they can make money here. That's a simple fact. And they're willing to walk across miles of desert to do work that some Americans won't do.
"And we've got to respect that, seems like to me, and treat those people with respect," he added. "I remind people all across our country: Family values do not stop" at the border.
Mr. Bush was asked whether giving guest-worker status to illegal aliens amounts to rewarding unlawful behavior while people from other countries struggle to come legally.
"There are ways to make sure that people are rewarded for hard work without affecting those who have been patiently waiting in line for legal status," he said, without elaborating. "Our deliberations are taking that into account."
"And that's a far cry, however, from blanket amnesty," the president added.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft have been working with their Mexican counterparts to soften immigration rules. Mr. Bush said he discussed the issue this week in a phone call with Mexican President Vicente Fox, whom he will meet at the White House next month.
Critics say the president is trying to win Hispanic votes by giving illegal aliens status as guest workers and, eventually, permanent residents. But Mr. Bush brushed off those suggestions yesterday.
"I get accused of being political in everything I do," he said. "I guess that's just the nature of being the president."
"I deal with problems as I see them," he added. "If some people don't like the solution — and some people are not — then we'll just let the chips fall where they may."
The president also continued to pressure Congress to abide by the federal budget it passed earlier this year. He delighted in the fact that his tax cut, coupled with a bipartisan agreement not to spend the Social Security surplus, has left few surplus tax dollars for Congress to spend.
"That now provides a new kind of fiscal straitjacket for Congress — and that's good for the taxpayers," he said. "It's incredibly positive news if you're worried about a federal government that has been growing at a dramatic pace over the past eight years."
Mr. Bush was careful to praise Congress for passing his tax cut, adding: "But don't go hog wild. I mean, appropriators appropriate. Don't overspend. And one of my jobs as the president is to make sure we keep fiscal sanity in the budget."
He also made clear that his tax cut carries political, as well as economic, benefits. He said he looks forward to hearing Democrats argue: "Mr. President, I think you're wrong. We should raise taxes on the people, particularly after they just got their $600 check."
Turning to another topic, Mr. Bush said the United States will not attend the U.N. Conference on Racism next week unless organizers agree not to "denigrate Israel."
"We will have no representative there, so long as they pick on Israel, as long as they continue to say Zionism is racism," he said of the conference in South Africa. "If they use the forum as a way to isolate our friend and strong ally, we will not participate."


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