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 Home > News & Policies > July 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 10, 2001

Press Briefing to the Travel Pool
Ari Fleischer
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 York.      Q    Boo.      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 here.      Q    -- Chao --      Q    Is Ashcroft on board also?      MR. 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.      Q    AG?      MR. FLEISCHER:  Attorney General.      Q    Will he administer the oath?      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.      Q    I'm sorry.  Who is going to administer the actual oath to the people --      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 my packet.      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 there.      Q    Who is sitting next to Schumer?  Is that a congressman?      MR. FLEISCHER:  Congressman Fossella.      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 get one?      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 non-discriminatory items?      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 that?      MR. FLEISCHER:  A circular.  You are now arriving deeply into the minutia of the government.      Q    And that is still under review?      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 about that?      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 brokering --      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 private citizen.      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 citizen.      All right.  Anything else?  I'm going back to eat a croissant.  See everybody up in the land of my people.  Thank you.                               END             9:09 A.M. EDT