Refugees currently undergo the most rigorous security screening process of anyone who comes to the United States.
AILA Doc No. 03102344 | Dated October 15, 2003
Interview on Univision with Lourdes Meluza (excerpt)
Secretary Colin L. Powell
October 15, 2003
MS. MELUZA: In November, there will be bilateral talks again with the Mexicans here in the State Department. Can Mexico expect at least an agenda of when, where, how, to start immigration talks again, which is at the top of their priorities?
SECRETARY POWELL: It's one of our top priorities as well, and my colleague Luis Derbez and I are looking forward to these conversations with some of the other cabinet officials involved.
And immigration is an important issue. I had hoped we could have made more progress in the first two and a half years, but 9/11, the events of 9/11 caused a slowdown in our ability to deal with some of these issues. And I hope we can get back on track. I hope to share with my Mexican colleague some ideas we have of how to move forward, some principles that the President believes in, and so I hope we can move the ball forward.
MS. MELUZA: Sir, your Cuban counterpart two days ago said that the new policies to Cuba are just an electoral show, according to him. How much weight do these measures carry? And how soon will you start meeting about the commission that you're going to be heading? And what are your ideas to hasten democracy in Cuba?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we've had many ideas in the past. We have presented
proposals to the Cubans before. "Why don't you start having open and free
elections if Mr. Castro is so sure of his position and so secure in the love
that he enjoys from the Cuban people? Have free and open elections. Allow the
various opposition movements in Cuba to operate."
Why shouldn't people be able to speak out freely? In this hemisphere now, we have a Community of Democracies. Thirty-four of the 35 nations in this hemisphere are in that community where people are free to speak, they're free to elect their own leaders -- everywhere except Cuba.
Now, with the President's new initiatives last week, we will be forming a commission, and I hope to have it formed in the very near future: my staff working with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez, and in a period of, I think, six months, come forward with some recommendations for the President.
We will be, also, tightening up our travel restrictions to make them consistent with law and taking some action -- other actions that are consistent with our laws, all for the purpose of letting Castro know that his actions, especially his recent actions, are unacceptable. Even some of his former close friends, let me put it, or close associates in Europe have become frustrated by his crackdown on the opposition; throwing people in jail for long, long periods of time for what? Because they speak out.
This is the 21st century. This isn't the Cold War. This is the time to let people speak out and freely choose how to be governed. That will happen in Cuba. And the waves of freedom will eventually sweep across Cuba, just as they have in some of the other parts of the world.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 03102344.