Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on Immigration Reform Legislation

October 4, 1983

The President was naturally disappointed today to hear press reports quoting Speaker O'Neill as saying that immigration reform legislation would not be considered by the House this year. The President hopes that the Speaker will reconsider and allow the House to vote on a bill that is essential to the future well-being of this nation.

As we understand it, the Speaker commented that there was no discernible constituency for the bill and that there had been mixed signals from the White House. We respectfully disagree with the Speaker on those points.

The Senate has twice passed immigration legislation -- by overwhelming bipartisan margins. And in the Congress immigration legislation has also been considered and approved by four committees in the House, including the Committee on the Judiciary. Administration officials have testified on the reform measures a total of 28 times.

This is not a political issue; it is not a partisan issue; it is an issue that concerns all Americans. And it is in the best interests of all Americans to have the Nation regain control of its borders.

One final point remains to be made. The President sent the original immigration reform legislation to the Congress more than 2 years ago. He supported it then. He supports it today.