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News Release Template Image

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 11, 2005
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:29 P.M. EST

[ ... ]

Q Scott, thank you. Some civil liberties groups are criticizing the tough border control bill passed by the House as a thinly disguised attempt to demand national identification cards for all Americans. Does the President support national ID cards?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President supports the legislation that just passed the House. We sent out a statement of administration policy. He had previously said that there should be some standards and that we would work with members of Congress, including Chairman Sensenbrenner, and they were moving forward on that legislation this week. We put out a statement of administration policy expressing our support for the legislation. There are certain aspects of it we'd like to see addressed as it moves through the process. But you should look at that statement of administration policy.

[ ... ]

Q It's a follow-up on Sarah's question. Mexican authorities are saying that it's an offense to Mexico, that the President is supporting a bill who call for the construction of a wall or fence in the border. What is your response to that? And does the President believe it's a good idea to have a fence on the border to fight terrorism -- or stop terrorism coming to the U.S. and illegal immigrants?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President's views are very clear to the government of Mexico. He has talked about this issue at length with them. We have taken a number of steps to strengthen enforcement along our borders. We also need to take steps to address the problem of illegal immigrants coming to the country to seek a better way of life. And that's why the President is continuing to urge Congress to move forward on his temporary worker program, that will address an economic need and will also show the compassion of America by addressing some of the issues that affect those who are coming here illegally. It will also free up our ability to go after those who are coming here for the wrong reasons.

The President recognizes there are a lot of people coming here simply to provide for their family and to realize a better way of life. Now, long-term, that means continuing to expand trade and improve the quality of life for people in Mexico, so that they have less desire to come to the United States. But there are also steps we need to take to address some of the enforcement side of things. And the President made a commitment to Chairman Sensenbrenner last year when the intelligence reforms were being discussed that he would work with him this year, early this year, on some of the issues that he had brought up during that time period.

Q Does the President support, specifically, construction of the wall on the border?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that there are different areas that are addressing the issue, in a number of different ways. And if you look back at the policy statement that we put out, it talks about the President's views on the various issues in this legislation. But the President believes the best way to address the problem of some 8 million illegal immigrants coming to the country to seek work to provide for their families is to move forward on the proposal that he outlined, and that he stated very firmly in his State of the Union address.

And he also went to the Republican retreat in West Virginia and made it very clear it's important that we move forward on this program. This is the way to address this issue, and to have a more humane migration system into the U.S.

[ ... ]

[ End ]