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Bush calls for progress on immigration law

Bush's appeal came a day after a shortlived Senate compromise between his Republicans and Democrats fell apart.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 22:33 IST
DPA

US President George W Bush on Saturday accused opposition Democrats of blocking a major overhaul of immigration law and urged lawmakers to break the deadlock.

Bush's appeal in his weekly radio address came a day after a short-lived Senate compromise between his Republicans and the Democrats fell apart, leaving immigration reform in limbo.

Bush once again touted his proposal for a so-called guest worker programme that would let immigrants legally enter the US on the condition that they would leave again after a limited time.

"To keep the promise of America, we must remain a welcoming society and also enforce the laws that make our freedom possible," he said, urging a cooperative effort to "fix our immigration system".

Bush accused Senate Democratic minority leader Harry Reid of blocking the overhaul.

Reid earlier accused Senate Republicans of unravelling the compromise.

The raging debate's most contentious issue is how to handle an estimated 11-12 million illegal residents, most of them from Mexico and other Latin American nations.

Hundreds of thousands more try to make their way into the US every year.

With Bush's approval ratings at all-time lows, largely because of the continuing bloodshed in Iraq, the US President is eager to present a success on a major domestic issue.

A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday offered a compromise that would have held out the prospect of legal status to most illegal immigrants -- a rebuff to hardliners for whom such plans smack of an amnesty, which they oppose.

But the Senate deal collapsed on Friday amid bickering between Democrats and Republicans over proposed changes and who should lead further legislative negotiations over the measure.

Senators are heading into a two-week Easter recess.

Even if an immigration bill passes after they return, they will have to bridge differences with the House of Representatives, which approved a much tougher version of immigration reform in December.