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Remarks by Secretary Napolitano at the Border Trade Alliance International Conference

Release Date: 
April 21, 2009

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

Secretary Napolitano: Thank you, thank you. Well, thank you and good morning to everybody. It's a pleasure to be here and I've seen some of you, literally, at the ports. We've been traveling quite a bit in my first 90 days as the Secretary of Homeland Security. Yesterday was the three month anniversary of President Obama's inauguration and I think it can fairly be said that everybody has been running at full speed for those days and so much has been done, but so much is left to be done. So, I want to thank the Border Trade Alliance for having me because the mission of the Department of Homeland Security has such a direct impact on what you do every day.

Last week, I visited three locations on the southern border: El Paso [Texas], Columbus, N.M., and Nogales, Ariz., before heading to Mexico for the second time as Secretary of Homeland Security. That same week, last week, the new Deputy Secretary, she was just confirmed two weeks ago, Jane Hall Lute, visited the northern border at Buffalo and Ottawa. Last month, I also visited Laredo [Texas] and Otay Mesa [Calif.]. And President Obama already has been to Canada and to Mexico. So, clearly you can see, in this first 90 days that we are focused on the border and that we are personally engaged, both from a security standpoint and from a trade standpoint. The two go together. We cannot separate one from the other. Now, to be sure, we face a range of threats at the border from drugs and weapons to human smuggling and human trafficking. And we need to act accordingly to address each of these. So, let me talk about those and then I'll talk a little bit about the some of the trade impacts.

Obviously, we need to control illegal immigration. Last year, we apprehended more than one million illegal individuals at the border. And we removed 369,000 illegals from the nation, the interior of the nation itself. Last year, Customs and Border Protection seized 2.7 million pounds of illegal narcotics, keeping those drugs from entering our cities and communities. So, preventing the illegal entry of people and drugs remains a priority. But it is not the sum total of our focus.

We don't want to damage economic security in the name of homeland security. United States, Canada, Mexico—all three economies depend on trade. So, part of our mission is also to protect against unlawful trade. Last year, Customs and Border Protection [CBP] had 14,700 seizures of goods for intellectual property rights violations worth over $267 million. So, you've got illegal drugs, human trafficking, illegal entrance, you've got illegal intellectual property. How do we balance all of those things?

The first step is to respect the differences between the Northern and the Southern borders. What we do to protect the Southern border will not be the same, in all cases, as what we do to protect the Northern border. We know those borders are very different in terms of climate, geography, topography, et cetera, and we want to align ourselves, proportional to the threats we see while building appropriate mechanisms to facilitate trade. So, there are differences, some differences between those borders, but there are also similarities.

First, there are security concerns on both borders, North and South. Yes, the cartel violence we are seeing in Mexico is not taking place in Canada, but there is human and drug smuggling that must be addressed. This affects the entire country, not just the border region. We have illegal entry concerns on both borders, whether through the ports of entry or between them. So, we need to recognize that there are actual borders, North and South, not metaphorical borders, and we cannot pretend that there are not borders even though we have close, close relationships with Canada and with Mexico.

So, how does the need to have a safe and secure border with drugs, illegal entrance, intellectual property rights violations, how do we do this?

First, here is our approach. There needs to be some level of parity between the two borders. We don't want to appear to go heavy on the southern border and light on the northern border. We will have a balanced approach, consistent with effective security for our entire country.

Second, we need to deal with circumstances on the ground. On the Southern border, it means protecting against drug cartel violence and combating illegal entry. We've launched a major initiative to do just that. We've added more personnel and technology and we've created a southbound strategy to stop the flow of guns and bulk cash into Mexico. We've also expanded our partnerships with state and local law enforcement at the southern border.

I have named a new special representative for border affairs. His name is Alan Bersin. He is a veteran prosecutor who will coordinate all of our efforts on the southwest border. Some of you may know Alan. He's the former United States Attorney for the southern district of California, which is San Diego, and indeed, that is where he is from. So, he's very familiar with the southern border.

What are we doing on the northern border? On the northern border, we are applying assets and technology. We've there detailed five new, five new CBP air and marine branches. We have used the unmanned aerial system to fly that border to provide intelligence information to us. We have 24 integrated border enforcement teams in place on the northern border. These are teams that also include Canadian law enforcement and others designed to create a safe and secure border zone across Canada.

On both borders, we have BEST teams. Border Enforcement Security Teams. On both borders, we are looking at and employing types of technology so that we can share more information with our partners. Both borders require policing against fraudulent documents and fraudulent entry into the United States. That's why we have what's called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative—WHTI. I suspect this crowd knows about WHTI. I will just guess that one. I will report that we believe to be on track for the June 1 implementation of WHTI. We're in the process of conducting as aggressive outreach as possible recognizing that whenever there is a deadline, people assume that it's not really a deadline. And, quite frankly, procrastination is a very human trait. Nonetheless, the deadline is real. Secretary Clinton and I have both signed the documents that say that the June 1 deadline can be met. So, we are conducting aggressive outreach up to and including everybody at the port getting a tear sheet. Basically, it's a brochure telling them about the deadline and what they need to do and have the next time they cross the border.

We have installed RFID [Radio Frequency Identification] readers at the top 39 points to enable swifter processing. And, we have a few ports still left to go. We are using RFID already at 29 ports of entry that process over 80 percent of the crossings. DOS—Department of State, has issued over 950,000 passport cards, which can be used to cross the Canadian and Mexico borders. And the preliminary data—now preliminary data can always be wrong, but I'm going to report it to you—anyway, indicates that roughly 80 percent of United States and Canadian citizens queried are already using WHTI-compliant documents.

So, the equipment is installed or last of it is in the process of being installed and tested. Our preliminary data is that the overwhelming majority of people crossing the border, particularly the Canadian border, already have compliant documents and we are staffing up to make sure that if there is a surge, right around the deadline time or right afterwards, we can handle that surge so that we don't get the passport backlog that occurred several years ago. So, the deadline is there. It is real. Having said that, I will say that we know, with all deadlines, a little common sense and flexibility needs to be applied and we are prepared to use common sense and application should the need arise.

But that would certainly be a second choice because the minute we say we're going to use common sense, at least initially, that human trait of procrastination kicks in again. And the plain fact of the matter is, these are real borders, this is a real law, and I'm really charged with implementing it. And I take that charge very seriously, and that is what we are going to do.

Now, let me move from some of the security and WHTI to the focus on facilitating trade, which is, of course, the purpose of your group. First of all, the stimulus bill that the Congress recently passed contains $720 million for land border ports of entry infrastructure improvements. A major infusion of resources. Of that, a little over 400 [$400 million] will go to the Southwest border. As I announced last week, we are doing a major overhaul of the Nogales [Ariz.] port of entry. That's about $200 million. We're also installing improvements at Otay Mesa, redesigning Columbus, N.M., and some of our smaller land ports.

These are shovel-ready projects that were already on a priority list for trade improvement that had been waiting for Congressional appropriation. In other words, I cannot claim credit totally for the $200 million for Nogales, because the bulk work in getting that and having it be the top priority, and it should be, and it is, was done prior to my being Secretary. The Governor of Arizona may have had something to do with it, but the Secretary did not.

We are also in addition to the shovel-ready projects that now can get started earlier than previously anticipated, we are also continuing to invest in technology such as ACE, the automatic commercial environment, and E-Manifest filing. And, we've expanded trusted traveler programs and FAST [Free and Secure Trade] and Nexus.

Now, over 568,000 are enrolled, so our goal is to have a modern border, an efficient border, and a safe and secure border for both people and for commerce. That is our goal. These are some of the steps we are taking to achieve that goal, and I am sure you have some ideas and comments about how better to achieve that goal. So let me just say thank you for having me.

I am going to stop right now, and let's have some Question:s. Thank you very much.

Border Trade Alliance President Maria Luisa O'Connell: Thank you. I am going to ask you to please, if you come to the microphone and ask the Question:s. Introduce yourself, where you're coming from, and then may the force be with you. Secretary, good luck.

If you can introduce, I tell you in advance for a good long line that we might have—I don't know how we are on time, but—

Secretary Napolitano: About 15 minutes.

O'Connell: Yeah, 15 minutes, so please keep it short, the Question:, and to the point. Thank you.

Question: Secretary Napolitano, I am David Randolph with the Greater Yuma Port Authority. You probably think I'm going to talk about presidential permit process, but you know how I feel about that.

Secretary Napolitano: You know how I feel about that.

Question: On the side of the angels.

Secretary Napolitano: Yeah.

Question: But I want to talk about something that's even more important. One of the themes of the conference here has been the effective use of resources; and, one important way to do that would be to have a multi-year funding authorization bill for land ports of entry. The annual process now appropriation really complicates long-range planning and the ability of states and the governments of Mexico and Canada to build a corresponding infrastructure they need to do it. Well, I won't worry you with the details of the virtues of a multi-year authorization. I believe your staff at CBP would be delighted to do that, but if you could look into this and be a champion with OMB [Office of Management and Budget], with the congress, I think would be an extremely valuable tool in having effective use of our resources.

Secretary Napolitano: Good point. I agree. Thank you, David.

Question: Good morning, Madam Secretary. Congratulations on your new position. My name is Andy Carey. I'm with the U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership. You mentioned this morning that security and trade go together, and I would like to suggest to you that there is yet another partner, and it is civil society.

We represent an alliance of border community foundations and other philanthropic entities looking to increase philanthropy and charitable giving in the border region. We would like to offer our services to work closely with Homeland Security, because there are a lot of issues, and we can certainly help put a friendlier face on some of the challenges that face us. So congratulations on your new position and please take a look at engaging civil society.

Secretary Napolitano: Well, let me follow up. Do you have a business card with you?

Question: I do.

Secretary Napolitano: Would you give it to Tracy Hanna who is standing in the back? And she'll just call you directly and get more information.

Question: I appreciate that. Thank you.

Secretary Napolitano: Okay.

Question: Morning. Gary Magrino from Yuma, Ariz.

Question: Juan Carlos Escamilla, Mayor from the City of San Luis [Ariz.].

Question: And we want to thank you for your help.

Secretary Napolitano: I miss you guys.

Question: We miss you, too. We're glad you're up here. After breaking ground at San Luis, too, the three of us were happy to report that our friends here from GSA [U.S. General Services Administration] are that close to complete. I have a package with pictures and we'll give it to your staff.

Secretary Napolitano: Really! All right.

Question: And first of all I wanted to congratulate you for your new appointment and that we miss you in Arizona. And our president cannot have selected a better candidate to advise him. And hopefully on behalf of the city of San Luis, the Greater Yuma Port Authority, the City of Yuma, the City of Wellton [Ariz.], the City of Somerton [Ariz.], and the population, it would be a great honor to have you present for our ribbon-cutting ceremony for the San Luis Port of Entry. So that way we can see you there.

Secretary Napolitano: Yes. When will it be?

Question: We think September.

Secretary Napolitano: Please send me a note. Please send me a note. It will be hot, yeah.

Secretary Napolitano: A cool 110 degrees.

Question: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name is Wilfred Moore. I'm a senator from Canada and from the province of Nova Scotia. And I am the Vice Chairman of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group. And I have a delegation that's here with me this morning. We have read your comments during your speech at the Brookings Institution on the 25th of March wherein you stated there is a "very real feeling among the Southern border states and on Mexico" that things are being done on the Mexico border. They should also be done on the Canadian Border, that they shouldn't go light on one and heavy on the other.

We believe that there are different realities on the two borders and that they require different measures, which should not be considered to be discriminatory. We believe that you should respect this reality, as we jointly determine the management of our shared border; and, it is our hope that we can return to the cooperative approach that existed when these smart border action plan was put in place in 2001 between our two countries.

Now, you may not be prepared to make it good today, but we would like to know what you see as the next step on the shared management of our border.

Secretary Napolitano: Well, let me.

Question: Just let me finish here.

Secretary Napolitano: Oh, you're not done? Okay.

Question: We believe it would be beneficial for you to meet with our group at your convenience to discuss these issues with a view to not thickening the border so as to permit the smooth and efficient transport of people and commerce.

Secretary Napolitano: I think my comments today address some of your concerns. Where I said we have to have a border both North and South, but the techniques, the strategies we're going to use on both borders, are somewhat different.

The Southwest border is much more manpower intensive because of the illegal immigration drug trafficking concerns that are more concerns with Mexico than Canada. We have other concerns with Canada. We have shared those with officials from Canada, so we have to have a real border there.

So that was the point of my comments at Brookings, which is to say we can no longer pretend that people can just go back and forth like they always have. And, when I met with other delegations form Canada or with other government representatives, I always get the story about people going back and forth, and they didn't have to have a document, and it was no problem. And I recognize that that was the past, but the future is that there will be a real border. We will have WHTI at both borders for example.

Question: Well, nobody is disputing that Madam Secretary.

Secretary Napolitano: Let me finish. And so that was the point of the Brookings comment, which is to see that there is a feeling and I was reporting it on the Southern states and in Mexico that nobody thought that the Northern border had to have anything, and it does; and, I take my direction now from the United States Congress, which has passed a law saying you will have things at both borders, and these are the things you will have.

But implementation is somewhat different, and that is why I spoke today directly to the types of the IBET [Integrated Border Enforcement] teams, the 24 teams we will have at the Northern border, the kinds of technology and fast lanes and things we will employ at the Northern border, because I am very sensitive to the fact that we have huge trade, among other things, relations with Canada.

Question: They're just in the world.

Secretary Napolitano: Exactly; and we need to move those lines. And the real tension we have between security, safety and trade, is the length of time it takes to cross a border. So I'm going to do everything I can and I look forward to working with you; and, if we can arrange a meeting, particularly when I go to Canada, that would be great to see what we can do to facilitate the lines.

But the message I have been trying to send is there are real borders, North and South. They both need to be as secure as possible, and that's what we are going to do.

Question: We agree with that, that approach, but we want to have a sharing of the responsibility, the management of the borders. And I think it's timely that with the downturn in the economy, which we are now unfortunately experiencing, it would be most appropriate to get at this now as opposed to when the economy starts to roll again. Thank you very much.

Secretary Napolitano: I agree with that as well. I think there's a window of opportunity here that we ought to take advantage of totally. Thank you, sir.

Question: Madam Secretary, I am Richard Cortez from the city of McAllen, Texas, and I want to thank you so much for the change in attitude of your department, indeed on the border communities and the trade communities. So, thank you very much. We are already seeing a very noticeable change.

Have you reached any conclusions on the effectiveness of the border fence? And if you have, I'd like for you to share it with us; and, if you haven't, would you consider postponing the construction of it until you do?

Secretary Napolitano: I think here's where we are on the fence. The Congress appropriated enough money to build about 700 miles of fence, and the contracts have been let—the plans have been made to basically complete that 700 miles. In fact, I think there's only 23 miles that haven't actually totally been completed before I even took office.

So my intent is to complete the portion of fencing that has been appropriated; however, and I was very frank with the Congress when I testified. You cannot build a fence from Brownsville to San Diego and call that an anti-immigration, anti-illegal drug strategy. And it's very, very expensive.

Fencing should be used in certain places in combination with technology and manpower; and if it's done right as part of a system, then it has a real effect. And if it's done right as part of a system, then it has a real effect. And I flew the Southwest Border last week and I know the effect that fencing it certain critical areas has.

I flew the fence near San Diego several weeks ago, and I know the effect that that has had at the San Diego-Tijuana crossing. So in the future we will look at fencing, but only in conjunction with a system in certain designated places that makes sense. Whether we need more fencing or not, I cannot say today. So I hope the reporters here today don't say, “Secretary, you've got to build more fence.”

That, I haven't made the decision on, but I have made the decision to go ahead and complete the little bit that's left of the initial swath.

Question: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

Question: Madam Secretary, Sam Vail. We own and operate probably the smallest point of entry and international bridge port in South Texas. One, we would like to support the Mayor's comments. They have not contracted. They have not acquired the land. They haven't done significant parts of the so-called fenced-in area, because of the international boundary and water commission's requirement. They did not be an obstacle to creating drainage from the area, and the portability of the fence and contract to take it down in three days notice.

I have a personal concern with all the stuff that we're doing on enhancement of drivers' license and everything else. Why in the world did they ever make the decision—not you or anybody that you're associated with—not to allow the pass cards to fly on an airplane. We can enter the United States of America on the land borders with a pass card, but I cannot fly from McAllen, Texas, to Houston, Texas, without identification.

Secretary Napolitano: That is a really good Question:, and I'm going to follow up on that, because I have a pass card, too.

Question: Thank you.

Secretary Napolitano: Make sure we do that, because that really doesn't make sense.

Question: Madam Secretary, my name is George Ramone. I'm from the city of McAllen, Texas. I work at the port of entry at Hidalgo [Texas].

We do about 20,000 vehicles a day, 15,000 pedestrians, 2,000 trucks, et cetera. For the longest time, this organization advocated for one mission at the border one uniform, one face at the border. It took 9/11 to get that done. All the agency merits, now, we have one mission, one uniform working very well. They're even holding hands and singing "Kumbaya."

Secretary Napolitano: That I have to see.

Question: Well, at least in my neck of the woods, I think. Now, we have the same thing outbound. My concern is we have ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. We have CBP. We have the service department with the local police, under-cover guys, some very sloppily dressed. We don't object to the mission. I think it's got to be a shared problem that requires a joint solution. Why can't we have one uniform? Why do we have to have all these agencies, some who are not even trained to do outbound inspections? Why do we have to have people in jeans in t-shirts, haves, no haves, cabs? It looks very unprofessional. I think we can do a better job of checking outbound. Thank you.

Secretary Napolitano: All right. I'll look into that. You know, obviously, one of the issues there has been the speed with which we have implemented an outbound strategy. I mean literally it was days between when I said we were going to do it to when we had moved 360 agents to the Southern border; and, more are going to be coming.

If we're doing something, it ought to be done professionally. We're professionals. It's our job. We do our job professionally, so I will look into that.

Question: Well, thanks for the opportunity, Madame Secretary. I'm Tanya Snyder with public radio. Just wondering if there is any resolution on the horizon to the trucking dispute.

Secretary Napolitano: That is really being handled in the White House, so that would be the appropriate place to work on that.

Question: Okay. Thank you.

Secretary Napolitano: Or respond to that. I'm sorry.

Yes, sir?

Question: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name is Peter Nelson. I'm the Executive Director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association on the East coast of Canada, representing New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.

First, let me remind you that on 9/11 the Atlantic Provinces welcomed 30,000 Americans who were stranded near, into our homes, as they landed in Gander, Newfoundland, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. They overwhelmed the hotels and most people stayed in our homes.

Secondly, we have the best lobster in the world, coming out of the Bay of Fundy. Come visit.

Our issue in the trucking industry in Atlantic, Canada, certainly is that 12 months a year, we're bringing our fresh fruit and produce from Florida to the Southwest and California and Mexico. It's costing us a billion dollars more a year in new fees since 9/11, mostly brought in by your department.

Secretary Napolitano: All right. Well—

Question: That's a trade—

Secretary Napolitano: That's a trade issue, and I will say that the fees that are charged, the Congress says "charge this fee" so that we don't have to appropriate money from taxpayers. So that's why we have a fee structure.

Question: The Canadian consumer is paying that.

Secretary Napolitano: I understand that. But again, as you understand, and I think you can, I think the decision made, and fairly so, by the former Congress was that trade should pay the fee for some of the additional security associated with it.

Now the rule of reason has to apply, and you cannot fee your way into an unreasonable state. So if we are feeing our way into an unreasonable state, we need to know that.

Question: Thank you.

Question: Madam Secretary, thank you for taking our Question:s. My name is Jason Wells, I'm the Executive Director of the San Ysidro Chamber; also the founder of the Binational Chamber of Border Commerce, which represents chambers on both sides of the border, along the California-Baja California border.

We've written you recently with what we call the southbound inspections, and precisely that's our point, in that just as we don't ask Mexico to pre-inspect going northbound, we would hope that the ownership of the inspections is still Mexico, in that, you know, of course we are assisting them. So on southbound checks, what we are supporting is a single point of inspection that both governments can use in an coordinated effort.

I think we've seen that, you know, having canines in automobile lanes, training 100 percent of the people in order to find the 5 percent we don't know, opening trunks on primary lanes—that's why we have two- to four-hour waits going northbound.

I think southbound inspections are an opportunity for this administration to show that it's a twenty-first century administration, a smart administration, an efficient one, using technology.

We've written you the last week with the proposal on ways that using technology, we can actually have southbound inspections without completing stopping cars on primary lanes. So we would just hope that—we're working at a coordinated effort with Mexico, without stopping cars in our primary lanes.

Secretary Napolitano: Yeah. Let me go on that.

The notion is that we will share the southbound inspections with Mexico, meaning that they will do some, we will do some. In other words, we're both not going to be everywhere all the time on southbound.

Right now, Mexican customs or their equivalent doesn't do any southbound. So we're working on hoping to change, working with Mexico to change that dynamic, and share some responsibility along that border.

We're looking for guns and bulk cash. We've already found in the two weeks that we've started this, I can't tell you how much we have found. It's unbelievable.

So the notion that there wasn't a river of cash and a flood of guns going into Mexico is a myth. I mean, there was. We want to stop that river. That by itself will not stop the drug violence in Mexico. That's a much more difficult problem, and that's where we're assisting the president of Mexico. That has to come from the inside of Mexico itself.

But we don't have to be responsible for the amount of cash and guns that are clearly coming from the United States into Mexico. There are other routes, but this is a major one obviously.

So we want to shut that down. And like I said, even in the couple of weeks since I announced we were going to have a southbound strategy, it's amazing.

So we're going to keep at it, we're going to keep up at it. And I will read your letter, but on any border, I think technology in the end is going to be our savoir, because that will be the thing that will allow us to speed up the lines.

And as I said in my comments, I know the tension. I mean, there has to be a balance always. But I know the tension between our desire to have safety and security at the border and the need to facilitate people and cargo passing. So we're trying to get to the right balance.

And I think the bridge there is technology.

Question: Thank you, ma'am.

Secretary Napolitano: Last Question:?

Question: Thank you. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, and congratulations on your new position. We know you'll be a friend of Canada. My name is Ken James, a Chairperson of Blue Water Bridge, Canada, a CROM Corporation of our government.

I just want to bring to your attention, following a meeting with former U.S. President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a statement: "If the fight for security ends up meaning that the United States becomes more closed to its friends, then the terrorists have won. I would hate to see laws go into place that has the effect of not just limiting or endangering trade or tourism, but endangering all the thousands of social trans-interactions that occur across our border."

And he went on later on, it was reported in the National Post in Canada, "Threat to the United States are threats to Canada," Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared, as he stood next to President Obama during the President's recent visit to Canada.

But actually then the Senator mentioned some of your comments at the Brookings Institute that tend to leave Canadians thinking that security is not adequate and that Homeland Security is of the mind that Canada is not doing enough security-wise. And that is certainly something that, of course, has been spread across our country since the comments that you made and the actions that have taken place. I'd be interested in your comments in relation to that.

Secretary Napolitano: Well, I think if my job is to be a myth-buster, I'm a myth-buster. And the myth I'm trying to bust is that there's no real border between Canada and the United States.

There's the closets of friendships, there's the closest of alliances. There's the closest of trade relationships. I know that, I respect that.

But the law says there's a border and certain things have to be done at the border. And the fact of the matter is that Canada allows people into its country that we do not allow into ours. And that's why you have to have a border. And you have to have a border policy that makes sense.

And what I'm suggesting is that we will have a border, we will have a border policy that is sensitive to the differences between Mexico and Canada. But there will be a policy for both borders. And it will require establishing the legal ability to come into the United States. That's all.

Question: I think it's just that the Prime Minister is of the mind that we are not allowing people into our country that wouldn't be allowed into your country. So I think that's where the difference of opinion is.

Secretary Napolitano: And I will be coming to Canada myself. Indeed, I was supposed to be there last week, until President Obama asked me to in Mexico City. And he's my boss, so—

Secretary Napolitano: So off I went, and that was cool. It was a great meeting. But I sent my deputy secretary in my stead, and I intend to come to Canada myself in a few weeks. I don't know that we have a date actually scheduled, but soon.

And the goal will be to, you know, state what I've stated here with you today, where we're trying to reach is the right balance on all the things that we are asked to balance, but, you know, recognizing in the end, Canada is our neighbor and our friend; Mexico is our neighbor and our friend. This is a very strong partnership that we have. And the communities along our borders will be enriched with a safer and secure border, and our countries will be better off with a safer and secure border.

But we cannot achieve safety and security and sacrifice trade. So we have to do it in such a way that trade is facilitated. And that's what we are working on and accept suggestions on, and would accept suggestions from you, and anybody in your group.

With that, I will say thank you for having me. Enjoy your meeting, and take care.

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