President Bush is tightening the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. The goal is keep people who commit or support acts of terrorism out of the United States, and track down those already on American soil.
Some of the men believed responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks were in the United States on valid visas. Now, the Bush administration is tightening loopholes in immigration procedures to insure that no one with terrorist links gets a foothold in the country.
The president says it's a delicate task. He said Monday the rights of immigrants who come here legitimately must be balanced with the need to protect the American public. "We welcome legal immigrants," he said. "We welcome people coming to America, we welcome the process that encourages people to come to our country to visit, to study or to work. What we don't welcome are people who come to hurt the American people and so therefore we are going to be very diligent."
Mr. Bush said the U.S. government will keep a closer watch on people who come to the United States. He said extra attention will be paid to those on student visas. Mr. Bush said, "We plan on making sure that if a person has applied for a student visa, he actually goes to a college or university. And therefore we are going to start asking a lot of questions heretofore have not been asked."
The president made the announcement at the conclusion of the first formal meeting of his new Homeland Defense Council. He said a special tracking task force is being established to coordinate efforts by government agencies to keep those with terrorist links out of the country and locate, detain, prosecute or deport anyone who might pose a terrorist threat.