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New From The Post
Bush Promises to Speed Up Immigration Process

By Christine Haughney
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 10, 2001; 3:20 PM

New York, July 10 – Standing before 29 new United States citizens, President Bush ordered today immigration officials to adopt a six month standard of processing immigration applications and urged Congress to "act swiftly" on immigration reform.

"We're a diverse country getting more diverse," he announced at a special swearing-in ceremony held in Ellis Island's gleaming Great Hall. Until Ellis Island's close in 1954, new immigrants had passed through this expansive institutional hall for inspection and registration. Today, relatives and friends of the new citizens perched on the same dark-wooden benches where immigrants once waited for admission into the United States. They snapped photographs of the president and the new citizens and waved.

"It's an honor to speak to you as the leader of your country," Bush said. As a right as citizenship, he added, "you don't have to listen to me if you don't want to."

It was Bush's first trip to New York since becoming president and politicians from both sides of the aisle – Republicans Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Governor George Pataki and the state's two Democratic senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton – turned out for the visit.

"It's the secret of our success, certainly the secret of New York's success" said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. "Immigration." He welcomed the president to "New York, New Jersey, I'm not sure," because of the ongoing ownership dispute of Ellis Island between the two states.

"I'm just delighted that the president is here," said Clinton who joined the president on her first trip on Air Force One since her husband left office. The importance of immigrant rights, Clinton told reporters, is an issue that she and the president agree on.

Schumer who also joined the president on Air Force One said that the president had a lengthy discussion about his trip to the Middle East and the pressing needs of New Yorkers.

"It's our job to educate him about New York's needs and we're doing that."

After the ceremony, Bush posed with the new citizens before the Manhattan skyline. "I love New York," he said and smiled.

For the citizens who were sworn in, the event marked a "triple kind of thrill," said Deirdre David who moved to the United States from London 30 years ago.

But meeting the president did not sway David's political leanings. After holding a green card for many years, David – a Temple University English professor – applied for citizenship so that she could vote in the next election. In the past election, she said, "I would have voted for Al Gore."

Bush was to spend the afternoon at an event honoring Cardinal O'Connor, the influential Roman Catholic prelate who died last year at the age of 80, at St. Patrick's Cathedral, where O'Connor presided for some 15 years as Archbishop of New York.

Bush and some Republican politicians, including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, will attend the ceremony to bestow a Congressional Gold Medal on O'Connor that was approved by Congress in March 2000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


2001 The Washington Post Company



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