WASHINGTON – President Bush heard concerns about immigration reform from south-of-the-border ally Honduras on Monday and offered assurances that he was committed to a bill that treats foreigners with respect while upholding U.S. laws.
Bush met in the Oval Office with Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who took office in January with promises to create jobs in the Central American nation that has been mired in poverty and unemployment. Zelaya has backed the Central American Free Trade Agreement that eliminates trade barriers with the United States but has provoked protests throughout the region.
Bush said he and Zelaya discussed ways to expand commercial opportunities between their nations and to make sure democracies in Latin America are strong. He said they also talked about the immigration bill being negotiated on Capitol Hill.
"I assured him that my administration supports a comprehensive immigration bill that treats people with respect, and at the same time upholds our laws," Bush said. "And over lunch, I will give him our strategy to continue to press for a comprehensive bill that will enforce our borders but allow people to come to our country in a legal way to work on a temporary basis."
Zelaya, speaking through a translator to reporters brought in at the end of the meeting, thanked Bush for "the frankness with which he has spoken about the solutions to the common problems we face in the Western Hemisphere."