President Bush called the nation's immigration system "broken" Tuesday, accusing critics of legislation under debate in Congress of not wanting to do what is right for America.
"If you want to kill the bill, if you don't want to do what's right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people, or you can show leadership and solve this problem once and for all so that the people who wear the uniform in this crowd can do the job we expect them to do," Bush said in Glynco, Ga.
Speaking to an audience of border agents after touring the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Bush questioned whether Congress will pass a comprehensive immigration reform plan to address the 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.
"Now's the time for comprehensive immigration reform. Now's the time for members of both political parties to stand up and show courage, and take a leadership role and do what's right for America," Bush said.
The president's speech comes as lawmakers are on break this week until the Senate returns to debate the measure in June. The bill would legalize millions of illegal immigrants, improve border security and require employers to hire legal workers.
The legislation would address human smuggling, which currently allows people to use immigrants as human cargo to be exploited into doing jobs that Americans won't do, Bush said.
"There's a lot of jobs here in Georgia that require people who are willing to do the work that Americans aren't doing," Bush said.
The current system allows human smuggling and document forgery, and additional border agents will address those problems, Bush said.
"If you can come to our country on a temporary basis, legally, you're not going to sneak across the border," Bush said.
Bush also touted an increased workforce of border agents under his administration. By the end of 2008, he expects to have 18,000 agents.
"We believe the more manpower there is on the border, the more likely it is we’ll be able to enforce the border like the American people expect us to do," Bush said.