For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 10, 2001
Press Briefing to the Travel Pool
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Ellis Island, New York
9:00 A.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: Good morning,
nation's press corps. I want to report that this plane is
not being hijacked to Kennebunkport. We are stopping in New
MR. FLEISCHER: I wouldn't
mind. The President this morning called Venus Williams to
congratulate her on her victory at Wimbledon. And let me
share with you some information on today. Number one, it's
just worth noting, Secretary Chao, Secretary Martinez are on
board. They will be participants --
Q Secretary Chao?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes -- participants
at the event on Ellis Island. In the history of our country,
the 212 years that we've had a constitutional system, there have only
been 24 Cabinet Secretaries who were immigrants. Two of those 24 are
in the Bush administration. The President is very proud of
that. So they will be joining the President at the ceremony
Q -- Chao --
Q Is Ashcroft on board
FLEISCHER: Yes. Ashcroft's on
board. The Assistant Attorney General is on board also, who
will administer -- who will lead the Pledge of Allegiance
today. Let me get you his spelling. His name is
Viet Dinh. He also is an immigrant.
MR. FLEISCHER: Attorney General.
Q Will he administer
MR. FLEISCHER: No, no,
no. He will deliver the Pledge of Allegiance. He'll swear
them in. I'm sorry, I've got it wrong. Yes, Viet
will administer the oath. I've got that wrong.
sorry. Who is going to administer the actual oath to the
MR. FLEISCHER: Assistant Attorney
General Viet Dinh. And let me try to give you some
biographical information on Viet. I don't know if this is in
Q And is he Assistant
Attorney General for anything in particular?
MR. FLEISCHER: Do you know,
Gordon? I'll get you that. In the President's remarks, the
President is going to talk about how America should be a nation that is
welcoming to immigrants. And he will have several policy
announcements to make. We'll give you a handout here in just
a minute, but he will announce the goal of a six-month standard from
start the finish for processing the application of
immigrants. He'll have several other policy announcements
dealing with helping immigrants to enjoy their lives as new Americans.
From the event at Ellis Island, the President
will travel to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where he will participate in
an event awarding the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor to Cardinal
O'Connor. The President will note the valued work and the
wonderful life that Cardinal O'Connor led on behalf of so many millions
of Americans. He'll note his character. He'll
note his contributions and his life of good works and strong faith.
And then from there, the President, of course,
will depart and return to Washington.
Q Were you able to find
out, at St. Patrick's, is it a church service; is it a civil service?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's a presentation
of the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. Speaker Hastert
will be there; many other members of Congress will be
there. Speaker Hastert will return to Washington with the
President. But it's not a church service.
Q The six-month timetable, does that begin once
a prospective immigrant has been approved for citizenship?
MR. FLEISCHER: You can see that on
your fact sheet. So you will have some hard news in the
speech at Ellis Island.
Q Is Fossella up there
right now? Members?
MR. FLEISCHER: Senator Schumer is
up there. Senator Clinton.
Q Calio up there in
that cabin right now?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, Nick was
Q Who is sitting next
to Schumer? Is that a congressman?
MR. FLEISCHER: Congressman
Q Ari, will the
President be meeting the current Cardinal?
MR. FLEISCHER: Oh, I'm
certain. When he arrives at the church he'll be greeted by
members of the church.
Q Will he have any
separate meetings. I wonder whether they'll get a chance to
talk about things like stem cell research, or --
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't know if
there's a separate meeting set up. If there is -- I think
it's just a hold, as people assemble.
Q Is there any
substantive issues on the table up there right now, or is it get
acquainted? Do you know?
MR. FLEISCHER: I wasn't listening
in. You know, I know they exchanged pleasantries and are
having a nice meeting right now.
Q -- know later, if you
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll try.
Q Who at the White
House led the Salvation Army to believe that the President would back a
new regulation that would add gender preference to the list of
MR. FLEISCHER: The White House told
them that would be reviewed. And that's the extent of it.
Q And reviewed with the
idea of adding that to the current civil rights statutes, or to
executive order --
MR. FLEISCHER: It's not a
statute. It's an executive order. I'm sorry, it's
not even an executive order. I mis-stated
that. It's an OMB circular.
Q OMB -- what was
MR. FLEISCHER: A
circular. You are now arriving deeply into the minutia of
Q And that is still
MR. FLEISCHER: That's correct.
Q Is that story
essentially accurate or inaccurate?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, what's
accurate is that the White House and the President are committed to our
nation's civil rights laws. And those civil rights laws
allow for people to hire in accordance with civil rights laws. And
those laws are bipartisan, they are widely supported, and they have
been affirmed by the Thurgood Marshall Court in a 9-0
decision. We're not aware of anybody on the Hill who is
interested in overturning those civil rights laws. If they
are interested in doing it, I think we're going to have very -- if
anybody were interested in doing that, I think it's unlikely they would
have widespread support outside a very small win.
Q Ari, you may be asked
-- how about Northern Ireland? How does the White House feel
MR. FLEISCHER: What aspect?
Q The Guardian reported
that he met last night with Ahern and Blair, and that he may be asked
to come in and serve in the same capacity that he did in terms of
MR. FLEISCHER: The President met
with Ahern and Blair?
Q Clinton. Clinton.
MR. FLEISCHER: Oh. Yes,
that's -- former President Clinton did meet with them in his capacity
as a private citizen. The President's position remains the
same, that he is ready to assist if requested, and as you know, the
State Department has sent people over and has been having discussions
with England and Ireland.
Q But how do they feel
about Clinton helping out?
MR. FLEISCHER: Oh, he contacted the
State Department and talked to the State Department about it as a
Q And who is that
you're talking about?
MR. FLEISCHER: President
Clinton. He had conversations with Blair and
Ahern. He met with them.
Q When did he have
conversations with the State Department? Afterwards, or --
MR. FLEISCHER: When former
presidents travel, they often contact either State or NSC to talk to
the current government.
Q Does President Bush
support a diplomatic overture or effort by former President Clinton?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, he's a private
All right. Anything
else? I'm going back to eat a croissant. See
everybody up in the land of my people. Thank you.
9:09 A.M. EDT