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Joint Press Conference with Secretary Tom Ridge and British Home Secretary Blunkett

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 1, 2003

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Briefing Room

10:40 a.m. EST

[ ... ]

Q: Mr. Blunkett, you introduced new asylum laws today that allow you to revoke citizenship for people you say abuse the privilege.  Would you say -- would you like to see those -- the Abu Hamza subjected to those laws?

And, Secretary Ridge, are these laws something that you would like or intend to introduce in the United States?

SECRETARY BLUNKETT:  Firstly, could I -- could I say that the laws are designed to ensure that, where people have had dual citizenship or where they have the opportunity of an alternative citizenship and they've abused the taking of nationality within the United Kingdom, we believe we have the right to withdraw that, and therefore to be able to expel that individual from the country.  If I named any individual here in Washington, never mind back in London, I would immediately allow their lawyers a field day in terms of what decisions I'd already ratified.  I don't intend to allow them -- anyone -- the pleasure of doing that.  So you'll forgive me for not responding to a particular individual in a particular set of circumstances.

SECRETARY RIDGE:  Thank you all.

Q: Secretary Ridge, did you intend on following those examples as well?  Secretary Ridge?  The second part of the question of whether or not the United States, if you intended on similar laws here in the United States to revoke citizenship if someone is found to be connected to a terrorist organization, or sort of blanket laws revoking citizenship?

SECRETARY RIDGE:  I think it's clear that in the post 9/11 world, that at some point in time that may be a matter that we consider in this country as well.  But I would tell you, at this time, that is not something that is presently under consideration.  But let's not suggest that some time down the road it might not be.

We have matters dealing with immigration and asylum that we're dealing with on a regular basis.  Whether or not that comes to the fore and we deal with it, remains to be seen.  Under the circumstances, as the Secretary has described, it's entirely possible.  We certainly haven't undertaken that review presently.

SECRETARY BLUNKETT:  Thank you very much.


11:01 a.m. EST