Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration is ‘incredibly welcoming of immigrants’ and is focused on helping people around the world study at the ‘greatest universities in the world,' during an interview today with five student journalists.

The conference call with student editors was held by Pompeo at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit event today in Overland Park to talk about his and the state department’s support of entrepreneurship.

The GES is a conference that brings together entrepreneurs, investors and leaders in public and private sectors, according to Pompeo was in Kansas to be the keynote speaker at the GES summit today, in which he talked about his partnership with the GES in the Netherlands.

Each of the student editors had the chance to ask 1-2 questions, which ranged in topics from the private sector’s involvement in higher education to the Trump administration’s relationship with immigration and the press.

The Bulletin’s first question was: “Mr. Secretary, you have said that you want more people from the midwest, and specifically Kansas to represent the United States overseas. My question for you is does this include undocumented immigrants, who might speak multiple languages and therefore be useful assets? And what would you say to those students who would like to participate in these programs but cannot, for fear that both they and their families will be deported?”

Pompeo responded to this question by saying that the Trump administration is ‘incredibly welcoming to immigrants’ that come legally.

“This administration is incredibly welcoming of immigrants from all across the world,” Pompeo said. “We want to make sure they come here in a way that is legal, that is lawful, and that has been one of President Trump’s primary focuses...President Trump is determined to make sure that we have a robust immigration system where we can bring the most creative minds from all across the world who want to come to America, to participate in The American Dream and to work. We are determined to make sure that happens.”

The reporter from Southeast Missouri State asked Pompeo about the decline in international students at his school and how the Trump administration affected whether the ‘best and brightest minds’ felt welcome in the United States.

“We’ve got to make sure our institutions are still attractive,” Pompeo said. “It’s primarily a state function, but there’s a federal role there as well and the second thing is, we’ve got to make sure that we have a process where students who want to come here can study...I see young people from all across the world that clamoring to come study in the United States of America.”

Pompeo said that the opportunity to study in the United States now is more attractive than it has been in the past 20 years, or even last year.

The Bulletin’s second question was: “Mr. Secretary, I do think this is an important question and I was just wondering if you could explain to us why you’re reaching out specifically to student newspapers on college campuses and as Mr. Kuros (the office of press relations for the State Department) put it to me today, this is a historic move for the Secretary of State as this is not normal for the Secretary of State to reach out to college campuses, but I wanted to know why you were doing this when you’ve provided cover for a president who has made light of violence against the press, has mocked disabled reporters and has even offered to pay the legal fees of supporters who assault members of the media?”

“President Trump and I both understand how the importance of press freedom and the importance for students like you to have the opportunity to say things,” Pompeo said. “What we value is when you say things that are truthful and that you don’t engage in political rhetoric as a journalist that is not reflective of reality. What’s important is that...reporters report things that are truthful and accurate and that they work hard to make sure they get those facts right or determined to do that.”

Pompeo also emphasized the importance of a relationship between collegiate press and the national government.

“You suggested that it is unusual for Secretaries of State to engage with reporters at academic institutions across America,” Pompeo said. “I think that’s unfortunate. I think that’s sad. I wish my predecessors had taken some of their time to do it...It’s an imperative that we get this right, that you all have every chance to hear from America’s senior leaders, to take your measure of them, to ask us difficult questions (and) we have responsibility to answer for our actions and to speak the truth to you as best we know and the best we can deliver and I hope I’ve done that with y’all today.”

Pompeo was the keynote speaker for the GES Summit today.

“I came to Kansas for an Entrepreneurial Summit,” Pompeo said. “It’s a global effort. The opportunities to come serve America, as a diplomat, working at the Department of State are enormous. Anyone who is attending any one of the fine institutions that you all are writing for ought to think about it.”

Pompeo said the opportunities to be a diplomat for the United States were open to anyone, despite their major.

“We hire them all,” Pompeo said. “The chance to travel the world to learn and to represent America as an American diplomat is a wonderful opportunity that I hope students all across Kansas will take a look at the state department’s website and see if that opportunity might not just be for them.”

The press conference was attended by reporters from Emporia State University, Kansas State University, Southeast Missouri State University and Wichita State University.

A full transcript of the press conference is available here

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