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News Release

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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 17, 2005

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

[ ... ]

Q Thank you. Scott, I have a question on a possible solution. Mexico's President, Vicente Fox, is demanding that the walls now along the U.S.-Mexican border be torn down, saying that they're discriminatory and against freedom. At his meeting with Fox next week, will the President agree to tear down the walls, or will he insist they be kept?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the focus of next week's meeting is on strengthening our security and expanding our prosperity in the hemisphere. It's a trilateral meeting with Canada and with President Fox. They're going to have lunch after the morning meetings, but the focus of this meeting is on our initiative to move forward on strengthening security and making sure that we are all doing what we can to protect our borders, while also allowing for the free flow of goods and services and easing the flow of people among our borders, and then, also making sure that we are taking -- well, on the prosperity side, I've talked about the free flow of goods and services. Prosperity and security go hand-in-hand. And all our nations have been working to take steps to make sure we have a common approach on security and a common approach on expanding prosperity.

Now, in terms of the issue you bring up, the larger issue here is really making sure that we have a safe, orderly, and humane migration system. And this is something the President has worked on for many years, going back to his days as governor. He's talked about it with President Fox at length, and he's also put forward some proposals for achieving those objectives.

We've taken a number of steps to strengthen our border security, and we've also put forward a proposal that shows our compassion and addresses an important economic need, and that is the temporary worker program that the President proposed, because we have, I think, some 8 million illegal immigrants who have been coming to this country seeking to work, and it's a problem. And the President believes the plan that he put forward addresses that problem, addresses an economic need, and we will make sure that people who are coming here illegally are treated in a more humane way, because they'll now become part of a temporary program and be here legally.

So that's the way the President is looking at addressing these issues, and it addresses the larger issue, so that we do accomplish that shared goal.

[ ... ]

[ End ]