This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, Jan. 8, that has been edited for clarity.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: All who participate in the Temporary Worker Program (search) must have a job or if not living in the United States, a job offer. The legal status granted by this program will last three years and will be renewable, but it will have an end.


BRIT HUME, HOST: The president's new immigration plan would allow millions of people, who are in this country illegally now, to achieve legal status as long as they are working, as you heard the president mentioned, and their employer is willing to vouch for them. Critics are calling it an amnesty plan, and saying it simply rewards the unlawful behavior of people who came here illegal and, therefore, gives them an advantage for those who stayed out of the country waiting to get in legally is.

So is this criticism justified? For answers, we turn to Daniel Griswold, trade and immigration specialist at the CATO (search) Institute here in Washington. Welcome to you, sir.


HUME: First of all the requirement is that you have a job or a job offer.


HUME: And that the job be one that Americans wouldn't take or won't take. How is that to be established?

GRISWOLD: Well, there will be a legal mechanism. The employers will have to go through a process of advertising the job. And if nobody qualified applies, then they can offer it.

But you know, there are some fundamental demographic and economic trends going on here. We continue to create opportunities for low-skilled workers, but the pool of Americans who are happy with those jobs continues to shrink. We're getting older as a society; we're getting better educated. You know, where was the line of people waiting to scrub toilets all night at Wal-Mart? They're just not there. And so, U.S. companies have to hire workers from outside. We have no legal channel for them to come in. Hence we have this problem of illegal...

HUME: Well, we do have a legal channel for people to come in. It's just that it's small. Isn't that the case?

GRISWOLD: Right. If you are connected to a family member, you're direct family, you can come in. If you have a PhD in engineering or something, you can come in. But if you are a low-skilled worker, there is a job waiting for you here. You can't get in legally.

HUME: You can't get in at all?

GRISWOLD: No, you can't. There are 5,000 visas set aside for nonagricultural, low-skilled workers. That is a pittance compared to an economy with 130 million jobs.

HUME: So it would be fair to say, then, that the main argument for this program is that we need it to support our economy. We need the workers.

GRISWOLD: That's correct. These workers are a very important part of very important sectors of our economy. You know, construction, hotel and motel. Every time you go out to a restaurant, these workers are playing an important part. And light manufacturing. You know, there are a million undocumented workers in manufacturing. If we force them to go home, those industries probably aren't going to hire Americans are going to go offshore.

HUME: What do you say to the argument when people say well, these are low-wage, low-skill jobs. And the prices -- the wages would go up, the market -- the law of supply and demand would have its effect and workers would materialize for these jobs at hire wages?

GRISWOLD: Well, you know, wages can only -- they need to be justified by productivity. You can't just double wages because then prices go up and people buy less of the product. You would shrink these industries. We'd have fewer restaurants, fewer hotels, less manufacturing, less agriculture. They are very important in agriculture.

HUME: All right. Now, let's take a look at the situation, which you have, a person in a foreign country, a Mexican, Guatemalan, say, wants to come to this country. You have got a person in this country already working. Who has the leg up?

GRISWOLD: Well, they would both be about equal. You know, this is why...

HUME: Really?

GRISWOLD: This is why this isn't an amnesty. The person inside the country wouldn't have any special advantage. They'd both get this temporary visa and the president has talked about...

HUME: Well, wait a minute. Let's stop for a second.

GRISWOLD: ... applying a fine.

HUME: No. I understand. But I want to just talk about the practical realities of that. In order for both parties -- both applicants to have an equal shot, wouldn't that mean that the same company, or employer, or individual family, in the case of a domestic worker, would have had to do some recruiting in Guatemala or Mexico, rather -- in order to establish this job opportunity, instead of offering the job to somebody who's already here illegally? That doesn't sound like it's going to happen to me.

GRISWOLD: Well, first, those illegal aliens are already here. Most of them have a job. That's why they're here. That's why they're able to stay here. And those who come here, they're often very well informed about the U.S. labor market. They follow networks. Their cousins or their family members know there are jobs in Georgia in a carpet factory or meatpacking plant in Nebraska. So they don't come here on speculation. It's very...

HUME: But aren't -- aren't we asking people who are out of the country to compete for the jobs of employers who would be expected to take them sight unseen in many instances?

GRISWOLD: Well, yes and no. But I think people operate by networks, immigration follows a pattern of network and family. They come here knowing that jobs are available. This is the internet age, after all, and mass communications. People can know when jobs are available.

HUME: All right. What about the argument that in the end, though, people have done something illegal? They've come here against the American law. And they've stayed here against American law. and they're on equal footing with people who have tried to play by the rules. Isn't that unfair on its face?

GRISWOLD: Well, this isn't an issue of bad people, Brit. It's an issue of a bad law. And I think the president's approach is, let's recognize reality. After all, we're not going to expend the resource and undergo the human and economic disruption of uprooting eight million people and sending them back by gunpoint. This recognizes reality. We can have them pay a fine; $1500 is suggested in Senator McCain and Congressman Flake's bill...

HUME: In other words, for coming clean they pay a fine?

GRISWOLD: Yes. That's not chump change for somebody on a low wage.

HUME: Dan Griswold, nice to have you here. Thanks for coming.

GRISWOLD: Thank you.

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