WASHINGTON — President Bush, saying the United States should find a more humane way to treat immigrants, told a Spanish-language television network Thursday that he supports offering temporary cards to immigrants who want jobs that go unfilled by U.S. citizens.
Bush said the card would provide legal status for undocumented immigrants or those who want to come to the United States to work. But he said he would not offer amnesty.
"I recognize that people are coming here to work," Bush told Univision. "And while they're doing jobs that aren't filled by Americans, I think there should be a temporary worker program and a card that helps the workers and employers who want them."
The president had made immigration reform a priority, but put it on the back burner after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. He championed immigration reform again in a White House speech in January, but election politics have prevented any legislative action.
Bush also described the role of faith in his leadership during the war on terrorism.
"I pray for tranquility during the storms of the presidency, I pray for strength and I pray for wisdom," he said. "I believe this war we face is not religious; I believe it's against the ideologues of hate."
In a separate interview Thursday with Telemundo, Bush said he deserves the support of Hispanics in the Nov. 2 election because of his plans for security, education, and health care.
"Every Hispanic family should be worried about security in the world we live in," he said. "We're fighting terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them here."
Bush also expressed gratitude to Hispanic families that lost loved ones in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, adding that they died for a noble cause.
"I would tell them the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war against those who caused the deaths on 9/11 is necessary," he said.
"The most solemn duty of the president of the United States is to protect the American people. And the biggest danger we have is that a terrorist group obtains weapons that can cause more damage than a few planes."
Bush spoke in English and his answers were translated into Spanish in the broadcasts.
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.