Editor’s note: Each week, WorldNetDaily White House correspondent Les Kinsolving asks the tough questions almost no one else will ask. And each week, WorldNetDaily brings you the transcripts of those dialogues with the president and his spokesman.
At today’s White House news briefing, WND asked presidential press secretary Scott McClellan about Bush’s desire for “cheap labor” in light of his support for the REAL ID Act.
WND: Scott, the president has said he is opposed to illegal aliens getting driver’s licenses, and he supports the REAL ID Act. But on the other hand, he says we need the cheap labor that these illegals provide. And my first question: Does he believe these cheap-labor illegals should be confined to being bused rather than being able to drive even used cars?
McCLELLAN: I’m sorry, that immigrants –
WND: Well, does he believe these cheap-labor illegals that he says we need, should they be confined to being bused to their jobs, rather than being able to drive, even used cars?
McCLELLAN: Les, I don’t think that’s the way the president has described it, first of all. The president – in fact, this was one of the issues that came up in his discussion with the Central American leaders and the leader of the Dominican Republic that was here earlier today. They spent most of the time talking about the importance of getting the Central American Free Trade Agreement passed.
And you heard from the president in the Rose Garden about how this is a larger issue than just trade. This is about promoting democracy and freedom and stability and prosperity in our own hemisphere. And the Democrats that are trying to block efforts from moving forward on the Central American Free Trade Agreement are only hurting efforts in the hemisphere that will lead to stronger democracy. Many of these are emerging democracies that are new and young. And we need to do all we can to support them.
And then toward the end of their discussion, they talked a little bit about immigration. And the president talked about the importance of making sure we have a common-sense, rational immigration program. Right now we do not. There are some 8 million to 10 million undocumented workers in this country that are filling jobs that Americans are not. And there’s also a great strain on our border because of that that we need to address.
We’ve done a lot to strengthen our border security. But the proposal that the president put forward will not only match willing workers with willing employers and address an economic need, it will address a humanitarian need, and it will address a security need, as well, because it will free up our resources along the border to focus more on those people who shouldn’t be coming to this country in the first place.
WND: Both of –
McCLELLAN: But – hang on. One other thing he said in that discussion, as well, was he pointed out – and this is something he talked about in his remarks, as well, about how CAFTA will help improve the living conditions of people in those countries. And it will also – and I remember one president pointed out that it will now be a two-way street. Right now it’s kind of a one-way street because most of the trade that has evolved with those countries is coming into the United States duty-free. And that’s not the case with American goods and products. And so this is, as many of those Central American leaders talked about, a win-win situation. And all of those leaders expressed their strong support for getting it passed. And the president made a very strong commitment that we need to move forward on this. He is going to work it hard because this is an important priority not only for our efforts to expand trade, but for our hemisphere. It’s a geopolitical issue, as well.
WND: Both of Washington’s daily newspapers this morning report the president’s fellow Republican, Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter of California, supports the Military Personnel Subcommittee’s amendment to ban women from serving in combat support units, of which another Republican, John McHugh of New York, chairman of the subcommittee, said, “The majority of Congress believes women should not be engaged in combat-related activities.” And my question: Does the commander in chief agree or disagree with these Republican congressmen?
McCLELLAN: There is a policy prohibiting women in combat zones. And the president has been supportive of the Department of Defense policy regarding women – well, women in combat, I should say.
In terms of these other issues, we support the decisions by the Department of Defense and their views on this. Women are doing a tremendous job serving in our military in many capacities. We are grateful for their service and for their sacrifice, as well. There are women –
WND: How about all the sexual assaults that are being reported –
McCLELLAN: There are women who have –
WND: – sexual assaults from all over.
McCLELLAN: And those issues need to be taken seriously, and they are by our military leaders. And the president has made sure that they take those issues seriously and that they work to correct any of those problems. That cannot be tolerated at all. But let me re-emphasize, we appreciate the extraordinary job that many women in the military are doing in a variety of capacities, and we support the policies of the Department of Defense that they have right now. And that says no women in combat, but there are many other ways that women can contribute and help, and we appreciate those that are.