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The White House, President George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 10, 2004

The National Security Advisor Delivers Remarks at The Mcconnell Center for Political Leadership
University of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky
March 8, 2004

[ ... ]

Q Building for the future, what changes would you suggest in our immigration policies, given the vulnerability of our homeland?

DR. RICE: Thank you. Well, we are making, I think, a lot of progress with our neighbors on the borders, with Canada and Mexico, to try to put in place a more effective system of border controls that can make us more secure, while still allowing the free flow of goods and services across the borders.

We do most of our economic activity with Mexico and Canada, and so you don't want a situation in which you have shut down these important avenues of commerce. And yet we learned on September 11th that people had gotten into the country who should not have gotten into the country. And my colleague, Tom Ridge, has developed a very effective set of programs with Mexico and with Canada called Smart Borders, where they are using technology, where we're about to put in certain biometric data that can help to identify who is coming across the border, and being able to clear -- pre-clear the products that need to go through so that you don't have a hold-up in trade. These are all extremely important things to do.

We believe that we can have immigration policies that are welcoming. The United States is a country that I think thrives because we have people from all over the world, and it thrives because people from all over the world want to come here. And we want people to continue to want to come here. I'm an academic. At Stanford, one of the great joys is to have students from all over the world. And they have to feel welcome here. They have to be able to get visas to get here. And so we are working to make sure that all of those very important principles are followed.

And so the President and his homeland security team, in conjunction with the State Department, I think made some very useful changes to our visa policies; Tom Ridge and his colleagues, some very useful changes to our border policy. And I believe we're making a lot of progress, and we just have excellent cooperation with Canada and Mexico. Really excellent cooperation.

[ ... ]

[ End ]