THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Statement by President Clinton on New Guestworker Program
I oppose efforts in Congress to institute a new guestworker or "bracero" program that seeks to bring thousands of foreign workers into the United States to provide temporary farm labor.
In its most recent report, the bipartisan Commission on Immigration Reform chaired by Barbara Jordan unanimously concluded that a large-scale guestworker program would be a "grievous mistake." We have worked hard to reduce illegal immigration and have made great progress toward controlling this longstanding and serious problem. To allow so-called temporary workers to cross the border now would undermine all the success we have achieved.
A new guestworker program is unwarranted for several reasons:
When these programs were tried in the past, many temporary guestworkers stayed permanently -- and illegally -- in this country. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants now residing in the U.S. first came as temporary workers, and their presence became a magnet for other illegal immigrants.
If our crackdown on illegal immigration contributes to labor shortages -- especially for perishable crops that require large numbers of workers for short periods of time -- I will direct the departments of Labor and Agriculture to work cooperatively to improve and enhance existing programs to meet the labor requirements of our vital agricultural industry consistent with our obligations to American workers.