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U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 17, 2002

[ ... ]

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the Saudis and the US being asked to register with the INS?

MR. BOUCHER: That's an Immigration Service matter and they're handling all the press inquiries on it, I think.

QUESTION: It doesn't go through State at all?

MR. BOUCHER: We're part of the process because we try to give out information overseas, we try to alert visa applicants to what to expect, we try to ensure compatibility between what we do and what the Immigration Service does and we share the information on applicants so that we can check whether people are telling us the same thing overseas as they tell us back here.

QUESTION: Has there --

MR. BOUCHER: Those are ongoing efforts, but in terms of actually deciding and administering this program, it's the Immigration Service that's doing it.

QUESTION: Has there been any diplomatic exchanges regarding the new requirement from Saudi sources?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't really know. We've had, I think, discussions with a variety of governments about the whole question of visas and how we can continue to welcome these people to the United States from various regions around the world and, at the same time, have the necessary protections and security for our nation.

As I think we've pointed out in many of our diplomatic discussions and some of our discussions here, having a registration system that keeps track of who is coming into the country and where they are is something that the United States has really lacked for many years, whereas in most countries in Europe, it's a common practice. We all know we turn in our passports and fill out registration forms every night in the hotels in some countries in Europe, so it's not unusual to have such a system, and as the United States puts it in place we want to make sure people understand that this is a normal part of knowing who's here and who came in and where they are, and that we'll be trying to do that in the most efficient possible manner.


[ ... ]


Released on December 17, 2002