Bill Clinton on Immigration
President of the U.S., 1993-2001; Former Democratic Governor (AR)
2000: Required agencies to communicate in foreign languages
Congress traditionally refused to admit new states if they lacked an English-speaking majority. In recent decades, the incentive to learn English has eroded. For example, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required provision of bilingual voting ballots.
California and some other states also allow voting by mail in state elections using non-English language ballots. But bilingual ballots should not be needed, because immigrants since the Nationality Act of 1906 (later reaffirmed in the Nationality
Act of 1940) have had to demonstrate literacy in English in order to gain US citizenship. Since only citizens can vote, why should anyone need a foreign language ballot?
Furthermore, just before he left office President Clinton signed Executive Order
13166, which required federal agencies to ensure people could receive communications and services from the government in foreign languages. Although well-intentioned, the policy further reduces motivation for immigrants to learn English.
Source: Leadership and Crisis, by Bobby Jindal, p.139
, Nov 15, 2010
Assure Mexico: no mass deportations
Immigration was a big issue [in discussions between myself and the president of Mexico]. Many Central Americans and people from the Caribbean nations were working in the US and sending money back home to their families, providing a major source of income
in the smaller nations. The leaders were worried about the anti-immigration stance Republicans had taken and wanted my assurances that their would be no mass deportations. I gave it to them, but also said we had to enforce our immigration laws.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.756
, Jun 21, 2004
Reduce immigration backlog while maintaining quality
Since 1993, the US has welcomed nearly 4.4 million new American citizens. Faced with this unprecedented number of applications, the Administration undertook an initiative that has significantly reduced the backlog of citizenship applications and is
restoring timely processing while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the process. The INS is on track to meet its goal of reducing this backlog by completing 1.3 million applications this year while maintaining the highest levels of quality.
Source: WhiteHouse.gov web site
, Jul 2, 2000
Opposed Official English; strengthen bilingual education
Source: WhiteHouse.gov web site
, Jul 2, 2000
- Opposed English-Only Legislation. The Clinton-Gore Administration strongly opposed legislation to make English the official language of the US, which would have jeopardized services and programs for non-English speakers and jeopardized
assistance to the tens of thousands of new immigrants and others seeking to learn English as adults.
- Strengthening Bilingual and Immigrant Education. The President is committed to ensuring that students with limited English skills get the extra
help they need in order to learn English and meet the same high standards expected for all students.
- Providing Quality Bilingual Education. Bilingual education funding also provides teachers with the training they
need to teach students with Limited English Proficiency.
- Increased Assistance for Migrant Children and Families.
- Opposed Efforts to Keep Immigrant Children Out of Public Schools.
700 new Border Patrol agents; increased penalties on aliens
The Clinton Administration sent a legislative proposal to Congress in 1995 to strengthen the country's strategy for combating illegal immigration. This proposed legislation provides for:
Source: State of the Union, by T.Blood & B.Henderson, p. 44
, Aug 1, 1996
No fewer than 700 new Border Patrol agents.
- An Employment Verification Pilot Program to determine the most effective means of removing a significant incentive to illegal immigration: employment in the US.
Increased penalties for alien smuggling, illegal reentry, failure to depart, employer violations, and immigration document fraud.
Streamlined deportation procedures so that criminal aliens can be more expeditiously removed from the US.
Strict enforcement against illegal immigration
We must not tolerate illegal immigration. Since 1992, we have increased our Border Patrol by over 35%; deployed underground sensors, infrared night scopes and encrypted radios; built miles of new fences; and installed massive amounts of new lighting.
We have moved forcefully to protect American jobs by calling on Congress to enact increased civil and criminal sanctions against employers who hire illegal workers. Since 1993, we have removed 30,000 illegal workers from jobs across the country.
Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p.134
, Jan 1, 1996
We are richer for the energy & ideas of immigrants
We must realize that all Americans, whatever their racial and ethnic origin, share the same old-fashioned values, work hard, care for their families, pay their taxes, and obey the law.
This same commitment to tolerance and equal opportunity should
govern our approach to immigration. Itís important for us all to remember that we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. Legal immigration has made America what it is today-a vibrant and diverse nation, all the richer for the energy,
ideas, and plain hard work immigrants have contributed to our society. Immigrants who enter our country legally and begin the process of attaining citizenship today are little different from the strivers who were our own ancestors.
We need to remember that, and repudiate those who argue against immigration as a thinly veiled pretext for discrimination.
Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p.133-134
, Jan 1, 1996
Page last updated: Apr 28, 2013