[JURIST] In his weekly radio address [transcript; recorded audio] Saturday President Bush publicly pressed his case for immigration reform for the third time this week and urged the Senate to pass a comprehensive immigration bill by the end of May so that negotiations can begin with the House on a compromise he can sign into law. In addition to repeating his pledge to send up to 6000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border [JURIST report] and calling once more for a temporary worker program, Bush called for a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now in the US in what could be construed as an appeal to his own conservative base:
Some people think any proposal short of mass deportation is amnesty. I disagree. There's a rational middle ground between automatic citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program of mass deportation. Illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty, pay their taxes, learn English, and work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship -- but approval will not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law.In addition to his Monday TV address on immigration reform [JURIST report], Bush discussed the issue in extended remarks [text] on a visit to an Arizona Border patrol station on Thursday.
The Senate is slated to continue debate on the draft immigration bill [text] this week in the lead-up to Memorial Day. A number of key amendments [JURIST report] have already been adopted, including one that would create an additional 370 miles of fencing along the US-Mexico border and another that would deny the possibility of acquiring citizenship to illegal immigrants convicted of certain criminal offences. The US House of Representatives passed [JURIST report] the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act [PDF text; summary] last year, a strict immigration control act that focuses on law enforcement by making unlawful presence in the US a felony subject to deportation, and that could punish humanitarian groups aiding illegals. AP has more.