Republicans, Democrats, prepare to tackle immigration
May 12, 2007 - 10:02:17 PM

Washington, May 12 - As the US Senate prepares to take up the immigration debate next week, US President George W Bush Saturday pushed for his comprehensive reform programme that would include a temporary worker programme to take pressure of the borders.

'Democrats and Republicans agree that our current immigration system is in need of reform,' Bush said in his weekly radio message. 'We agree that we need a system where our laws are respected.'

Bush is courting his strongest allies in Congress on the issue - Senate Democrats and Republicans who last year supported a broad immigration measure voted down by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives who pared it back to strict border security moves.

But with centre-left Democrats now in charge of both houses, Bush's ideas stand a better chance of passing, making it one of the few issues where the centre-right Republican and the opposition see eye to eye.

Senator Edward Kennedy, who has harshly criticized Bush on the war in Iraq, welcomed Bush's overtures on immigration.

'I thank President Bush for addressing the nation on this critical issue and emphasizing the common goals that we share,' Kennedy said in a response to the radio speech.

Bush's proposal includes a temporary worker programme that would 'fill jobs that Americans are not doing' and 'resolve the status of millions of illegal immigrants who are here already, without amnesty and without animosity.' It also calls for penalties for employers who violate the rules.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday said the Senate would vote on Tuesday on whether to debate the broad reform bill it passed last year. But he charged in a statement that Republicans and Bush were playing politics with the bill and that the details of Bush's proposals were 'unworkable.'

One of Reid's main objections to White House immigration policies is the increasing number of families who are split with the US-born child being allowed to stay in country but illegal parents deported.

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