Bush: Democrats’ leader sunk immigration bill


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush blamed
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid on Saturday for the potentially
fatal blow dealt to compromise immigration legislation.

landmark bill, which would offer eventual citizenship to millions of
illegal immigrants, fell victim Friday to internal disputes in both

But Bush — echoing earlier complaints from Senate
Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee — sought to place all the
blame on Reid, D-Nevada, who refused to permit votes on more than three
Republican-backed amendments.

“I call on the Senate minority
leader to end his blocking tactics and allow the Senate to do its work
and pass a fair, effective immigration reform bill,” Bush said in his
weekly radio address.

Hailed as a bipartisan breakthrough earlier
in the week, the immigration measure would have provided for stronger
border security, regulated the future entry of foreign workers and
created a complex new set of regulations for the estimated 11 million
immigrants in the country illegally.

Officials said an estimated
9 million of them, those who could show they had been in the United
States for more than two years, would eventually become eligible for
citizenship under the proposal.

Faced with a major setback only
months before much of the Republican-controlled Congress is up for
re-election, Bush sought to give life to the issue. Speaking mostly to
conservatives in his party, he said border security must be improved
and enforcement within the United States needs to be enhanced.

in a nod to business leaders who support temporary worker programs that
would ensure an easy supply of low-cost labor, he spoke passionately
about the need to put out the welcome mat for those from other

“Immigration is an emotional issue and a vitally
important one,” Bush said. “At its core, immigration is the sign of a
confident and successful nation.”

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