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House leaders say nationwide immigration hearings to begin early July

[JURIST] Republican House leaders Thursday clarified the timing and purpose of proposed nationwide immigration hearings [JURIST report], deflecting criticism that the hearings were intended to delay a House vote on comprehensive immigration reform [JURIST news archive] until after November elections. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert [official website] told a news conference Thursday that hearings will begin the first week in July and will extend through mid-August, and will invite public comment on immigration issues. Hastert suggested that a Senate-House compromise immigration bill could be worked out before the elections, but that the bill should not be rushed through either chamber.

There are few similarities between the Senate bill [S 2611 summary; JURIST report] and the House version [HR 4437 summary; JURIST report], which must be reconciled before a bill can be presented to the President. In a speech earlier this month, President Bush called on lawmakers to find a "rational middle ground" between the Senate version, which includes a pathway to citizenship favored by Bush, and the House bill, which focuses on law enforcement. The New York Times has more.

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