[JURIST] US Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) [official website], speaker of the US House of Representatives [official website], has said that he and other House Republicans would be willing to consider an immigrant guest-worker program, which may lead to a compromise with the US Senate [official website] over the controversial immigration bill [text, PDF; bill summary] currently being debated on the Senate floor. Hastert said his party's first priority is to protect the border, but acknowledged there is a need for a temporary-worker program.
US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website], chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website], said he was pleased with Hastert's remarks and called it a "significant shift" for the House, which passed a bill [JURIST report] last December that would treat illegal immigrants as criminals. A heated debate began Wednesday in the Senate on the revised immigration bill, which was approved [JURIST report] by the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, with many Republicans voicing opposition to granting citizenship to illegal aliens. Rachel L. Swarns of the New York Times has more.