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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
September 7, 2004

Remarks by the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney Followed by Question and Answer at a Town Hall Meeting
Embassy Suites Hotel
Des Moines, Iowa

[ ... ]

Q Illegal immigration, border safety and the President's amnesty policy, if the government doesn't come down hard on the people who are employing the illegal immigrants, and what is to prevent them, or what is the disincentive for them coming here?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we've tightened up significantly on the borders since 9/11. We've had to. We've significantly beefed up our border security and so forth. But it continues to be a problem. Part of the difficulty that we're faced with, and one of the things that the President talked about with respect to the immigration policy is that we've got so many people coming across illegally -- primarily for economic reasons, that want to come to work in the United States. But we have no idea who is here. We have no idea what they do once they get here. We have no idea how long they're going to stay, and that there was a need to try to regularize this process. And what he has suggested is that we ought to consider the possibility of having what, in effect, would be a guest worker program so we'd know who was coming in, and that once here, then, they'd stay for a specific period of time. And they they'd have to go back home once their period of time was ended. They could not become citizens. But we would have track of who, in fact, was in the country. That's been proposed. Now, it's just an idea, a concept.

It hasn't gone anyplace legislatively at this point. And the problem we're faced with is that we need to find ways going forward to make sure we do, in fact, have knowledge of who is in the country and whether or not they've stayed, and how long they've stayed and what they're doing while they're here. And at present that's a very hard thing to do because of the enormous flow of people we've got back and forth. We've improved our system with respect to those that come in legally by visas and so forth. But we still don't have as good a grip as we need on all of those who come into the United States illegally, stay for a period of time, and then go back home.

And we need to do a better job than we are to make certain we screen out terrorists to the maximum extent possible. So it's an attempt to try to address that problem. It's not clear yet exactly how it ultimately gets sorted out or gets resolved. But that's at the heart of what is being talked about here.

[ ... ]

[ End ]