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Bush urges senators agree on immigration overhaul

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Apr 5 (Reuters) President George W Bush today urged senators struggling to find a compromise on a US immigration overhaul to come to an agreement quickly.

Bush spoke outside the Oval Office shortly after a breakfast with Republican leaders of the US Senate and House of Representatives.

Senators are trying to pass immigration legislation before Congress starts a two-week recess later this week. Some lawmakers are saying passage was unlikely without a compromise that would attract more support from the Republican majority.

The Senate is debating a bipartisan bill that toughens workplace enforcement on illegal immigrants and tightens the border. It also creates a guest-worker program pushed by Bush.

The bill enjoys strong Democratic support and would provide a way for temporary workers as well as illegal immigrants to become US citizens.

That measure, passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, faces opposition from some conservative Republicans and lacksthe 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to overcome procedural hurdles, senators said. The conservatives say it is an amnesty for illegal aliens.

''This is a vital debate,'' Bush said. ''I thank the members who are working hard to get a bill done. I strongly urge them to come to a conclusion as quickly as possible and pass a comprehensive bill.'' Bush was insistent that the bill include a guest-worker program, saying it was not amnesty but will ''enable us to more secure the border, will recognize that there are people here working hard for jobs Americans won't do.'' REUTERS CH RAI1935

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