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Frist pushing for immigration reform vote in Senate this week

[JURIST] US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) [official website] said Sunday that he wants the full Senate to vote on an immigration bill by the end of the week, detailing three areas that must be addressed [press release]: border control, employer enforcement, and a guest worker program. Frist has criticized provisions in the immigration bill passed [JURIST report] by the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] last week that would enable the 11 million illegal aliens currently in the US to seek citizenship without having to pay fines, learn English, or return to their home country for a period of time. He wants the Senate to instead pass a version of the bill that would not give citizenship status to illegal immigrants who are felons, have committed misdemeanors, or are not currently working in the US.

US Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) [official website], a main sponsor of the version of the immigration bill passed in the House of Representatives, has also urged the Senate to avoid a deadlock between Republicans and Democrats on the controversial bill so that both houses of Congress could reach a consensus on the main issue of determining a status for illegal aliens. The House has already passed [JURIST report] HR 4437 [text, PDF] which would have made it a felony to be in the US illegally, but the Senate Judiciary Committee deleted this language from the bill it approved last week. President Bush has also urged Congress to authorize a temporary guest worker program [transcript; JURIST report] for illegal immigrants as part of immigration reform [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.

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