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Bush toughens stand on immigration laws

Washington observer Stephen Hess said it was an adroit mid-course correction by the US President.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2006 10:46 IST

President George W Bush is adopting a tougher line in the contentious debate on overhauling US immigration laws, putting an emphasis on border control and strict enforcement measures favoured by his conservative base.

The new approach was evident as the US leader made an appearance on Wednesday at a coffee shop in Alexandria, Virginia, touting enforcement measures meant to catch illegal immigrants when they try to apply for work.

"Part of a comprehensive immigration plan is to give employers the tools necessary to determine whether or not the workers they're looking for are here legally in America," the US President said, flanked by immigrant workers from Iran, Guatemala and El Salvador.

"Part of a comprehensive immigration plan is to make sure ... That we uphold our laws and say to employers, 'It's against the law for you to hire somebody here illegally. We intend to find you when we catch you doing it,'" Bush said.

But Bush also stressed the importance of making it easier for employers to legally hire foreign-born workers "for jobs Americans aren't doing."

Long-time Washington observer Stephen Hess said it was an adroit mid-course correction by the US President, who earlier had focused mostly on measures normalizing the status of illegal immigrants.

The change in thrust may save immigration bill that for weeks had been hopelessly stymied, political observers said.