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Bush presses immigration compromise as House holds hearing at border station

[JURIST] President Bush repeated earlier calls [JURIST report] for a compromise immigration reform bill [JURIST news archive] that would satisfy the demands of both House and Senate leaders during a press conference [transcript] in Chicago Friday. After promoting the use of the voluntary Basic Pilot Employment Verification Program [backgrounder], an automated system employers may use to check the legal status of a new hire, Bush said:

The best way to deal with this problem [of immigration], in my judgment, is to say, look, you're here illegally, there's got to be a consequence. The consequence could be a penalty, a fine. It could be proof that you're not a criminal. In other words, there's got to be ways to say -- make restitution for society for breaking the law; but say to the person, you can get in the citizenship line, but at the back of the line, not at the beginning. See, there are people in line who want to become a citizen of the United States. It doesn't make sense to penalize those who are here legally, playing by the rules, to let people who have been here illegally get ahead of them.
In an effort to promote a deal, Bush has already met with some House Republican leaders who passed a conservative law-enforcement-focused immigration bill [HR 4437 summary; JURIST report] in November.

Also on Friday, the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation [official website] held a second hearing [meeting notice] on border security at a border patrol station in Laredo, Texas. The Houston Chronicle has more.

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