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Bush presses comprehensive immigration reform in State of the Union address

[JURIST] President Bush pressed for comprehensive immigration reform in his State of Union address [text; White House initiatives summary] Tuesday night, urging US lawmakers to take action to secure US borders, enhance interior and worksite enforcement of immigration laws, create a temporary worker program, resolve "without animosity or amnesty" the status of illegal immigrants already in the US, and promote assimilation. The call contained in a speech otherwise focused on Iraq and various domestic initiatives on health care, energy and education follows the failure of House and Senate negotiators [JURIST report] to come up with agreed legislation in the last Republican-dominated session of Congress despite earlier presidential urgings [JURIST report]. Observers suggest bipartisan agreement on key points is more likely under new Democratic leadership, although perhaps without the same emphasis on strict enforcement measures like border fencing [JURIST report] that proved controversial earlier this year, although the President did sign a law [JURIST report] authorizing a 700-mile-long barrier along the Mexican border.

President Bush also called on members of the Senate to give his latest judicial nominees [JURIST report] what he labeled a "fair hearing" and a "prompt up-or-down vote," saying that he and lawmakers have a shared obligation to ensure that vacancies in the federal courts are filled.

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