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Office of Media Affairs
September 5, 2001
Briefing by Ari Fleischer, August 31, 2001
Q Questions on the Fox visit. You mentioned a news conference. Will there not be a joint news conference as is the custom for state visit?
MR. FLEISCHER: I haven't announced it yet; there likely will be.
Q What day would it likely be?
MR. FLEISCHER: Most likely Thursday.
Q In Toledo, or before they leave?
MR. FLEISCHER: Before the departure from the White House.
Q And do you expect any kind of major agreement on the guest worker program that would be announced?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President and his Cabinet have been working very closely with Mexican authorities on the issues involving migration. As you remember in the President's visit to President Fox's ranch in February, the two agreed that we need to take a new look at immigration issues between our two countries.
From President Bush's point of view, he thinks it's very important that America be a nation that welcomes immigrants. He recognizes the huge contributions to our economy that immigrant workers have made, and the vital role America has in welcoming people who will fulfill that role in our economy.
I believe next week, what you can look forward to will be a series of principles that are announced by the two Presidents. The issue of immigration is very important to President Bush. It's also very complicated. It also involves some thoughts by members of Congress, and the President is going to continue even after President Fox departs to work on this issue so that immigrants can be welcomed to America in a way that is legal, safe and humane.
Q Ari, on the Mexican thing, on law enforcement and anti-narcotic efforts, we're going to see something, an announcement about the extradition of real Mexican drug leaders to the United States. Is the President ready to discuss our directive with the President of Mexico, especially about the issue about the former governor of Quintana Roo, one of the major drug traffickers who had some indictment in New York.
MR. FLEISCHER: On the question of working together on law enforcement and counternarcotics efforts, President Bush is highly praiseworthy of President Fox's courageous efforts to fight organized crime and to reduce drug trafficking. The level of cooperation between United States agencies and Mexican agencies, which in the past have been strained, is now growing. There is an increased confidence between American officials and Mexican officials as we work together to combat these problems.
But the President is very pleased with the efforts that Mexico is making, and I think you can anticipate some more discussion about that and some information about that next week.
Q The question about --
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not ruling out more news on that front, but there will be announcements made next week that I'm not going to preview.
Q Ari, you said the President recognizes the contributions that immigrants, even illegal immigrants, make in this country, in the work force. What are the President's thoughts on the legal issues here? I mean, he's generally identified as a law and order politician, as someone who promotes respect for the law. If people have violated the nation's immigration laws, is there to be no sanction or punishment for that? Does he not take those laws or those violations seriously?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, that's precisely the issue and the reflection of the complexity of it. There are millions of people who have entered this country illegally. And that is one of the issues that has to be dealt with. The President does not want to create a program that has incentives for people to come to the United States illegally. The President wants to make certain that we have programs that are realistic and that honor the law.
At the same time, he wants to make certain that people don't lose their lives trying to come to America. He's very respectful of the fact that the reason that so many people come to this country is for a better way of life; and that people who live across the Rio Grande, for example, come here because they want to put food on the table for their children and they're driven to come here by family values -- the same family values that drive Americans. And they're driven to come here by a better way of life.
The President also thinks very strongly that one of the real long-term solutions to any issue dealing with immigration is to help Mexico to strengthen its economy; to help a growing middle class develop in Mexico. And that's another reminder of the importance of free trade. And the trade between the United States and Mexico has boomed under NAFTA, and the President wants to make sure that keeps going.