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The White House, President George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 18, 2002

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
The James S. Brady Briefing Room

12:50 P.M. EST

[ ... ]

Q All right. The Arizona Daily Star reports that Cochise County's newspaper has issued a call to arms and is spearheading the formation of a local militia to combat illegal immigration. And my question is, does the President plan to do anything more than is being done by federal authorities, which is not stopping so many thousands of illegals from getting across the border?

MR. McCLELLAN: We have taken a number of steps to secure our borders while keeping in mind the importance that America was founded on the tradition of welcoming immigrants to the country.

Q Not illegal, though -- not illegal immigrants.

MR. McCLELLAN: And the important security legislation just recently passed in the House. So we're taking a number of steps to continue securing our borders.

[ ... ]

Q Scott, Tony Garza is ready to go to Mexico to be ambassador from the United States. The Mexican authorities continue to take immigration as a first priority for the bilateral relation, and they think with the personal relationship that Tony has with the President they can get something done quickly. It is fair for the Mexican government to think in that way, or just --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, certainly, a safe, orderly, humane migration remains a priority for this administration. And we remain committed to working with Mexico through our high-level working groups to move forward on those issues related to a safe, orderly and humane migration. And I would point out that Ambassador Garza has a long history of working on these issues and working closely with Mexico.

Q For instance, would the President help the goal of the Mexican government?

MR. McCLELLAN: To help what?

Q To get the goal of the Mexican government, his friendship with the President would help in any way to the goal of immigration?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure, he'll be a help to that. The President has a strong relationship with Mexico and with President Fox. And Ambassador Garza will play an important role in that relationship.

[ ... ]

END 1:28 P.M. EST