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President Bush Presses for Immigration Reform


President Bush is urging Congress to move ahead with immigration reform, an issue that is becoming increasingly emotional. A package of controversial immigration reforms has already been approved by the House of Representatives, and the Senate is set to open the debate on Monday.

A large portion of the estimated 11 million illegal workers in the U.S. are Hispanic, and that community has organized several big protests across the country in recent weeks to express anger over proposed legislative changes to current immigration policies, including a measure that would make it a serious crime to offer any assistance to an illegal immigrant.

President Bush supports comprehensive immigration reform.

"America is a nation of immigrants, and we are also a nation of laws. And our immigration laws are in need of reform," said Mr. Bush.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, the president said his vision of immigration reform begins with increasing the numbers of border patrol guards and using new technology to secure the nation's frontier. He also supports a temporary worker program that would create a legal way to match foreign workers with American employers to fill jobs Americans do not want.

A plan favored by the president would allow guest workers to remain in the country for up to six years.

One thing the president does not support is an amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the United States.

"I believe that granting an amnesty would be unfair, because it would allow those who break the law to jump ahead of people who play by the rules and wait in the citizenship line," added Mr. Bush.

Advocates for illegal immigrants say they deserve a path to citizenship, because they are hard workers, who contribute to the economic health of the United States.

President Bush acknowledged that the immigration debate is an emotional one, but said America does not have to choose between being a welcoming society and a lawful one.