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Bush speaks to college graduates, tries to inspire breakthrough on immigration bill

Bush speaks to college graduates, tries to inspire breakthrough on immigration bill

President George W. Bush, pushing for a hard-to-find breakthrough on a broad immigration overhaul, appealed to graduating college students in this diverse city for help in persuading Congress to produce a bill.
Bush gave the commencement address Saturday at Miami Dade College, where more than half the students were raised speaking a language other than English. He gave the Class of 2007 an assignment: Tell their elected representatives in Washington to get going on immigration overhaul.
"You see every day the values of hard work, and family, and faith that immigrants bring," the president said. "This experience gives you a special responsibility to make your voices heard."
Bush said the immigration system is deeply broken: Employers are not held accountable enough; borders are not secure enough; businesses need workers willing to do low-paying jobs; and the 12 million people estimated to be in the U.S. illegally cannot all be deported and so must be dealt with "without amnesty and without animosity."
"We must address all elements of this problem together _ or none of them will be solved at all," Bush said.
The president also chose the setting of Miami, a center of Cuban exiles opposed to the communist regime of Fidel Castro, to predict that the "day is nearing" when "the light of liberty will shine" again in Cuba.
"In Havana and other Cuban cities, there are people just like you who are attending school, and dreaming of a better life. Unfortunately, those dreams are stifled by a cruel dictatorship that denies all freedom in the name of a dark and discredited ideology," the president said to loud cheers. "The reign of every tyrant comes to an end."
Castro temporarily handed power to his brother eight months ago because of illness. The 80-year-old revolutionary has ruled the communist island nation for 47 years.
With Castro's condition and exact ailment a state secret, his future role has been the source of much speculation. Cuban officials have given increasingly optimistic reports about his health, and there is a growing expectation that he could soon make his first public appearance since falling ill.
Just outside the school, an anti-war demonstration drew several hundred people opposed to the Bush's Iraq policies.
On immigration, most national polls show people in the U.S. are overwhelmingly supportive of a policy overhaul that would allow those already in the country illegally to stay, work and earn their way to legal status.
Last year, Congress' main accomplishment on immigration was a get-tough bill authorizing 700 additional miles (1,100 additional kilometers) of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Bush wants to establish a temporary worker program for some illegal immigrants and to create a path to citizenship _ albeit a difficult one _ for many.
When Democrats became the majority in Congress in January, it was expected to help immigration reform. It was Bush's fellow Republicans, conservatives who reject the president's approach as too lenient toward lawbreakers, that stymied his plans when they controlled Capitol Hill.
However, the change in power has not necessarily made it easier. Both parties are seeking compromise on a bill that would require fines, trips back home, long waits and hefty penalties for illegal immigrants seeking citizenship.
In Houston, about 300 to 400 people marched through a largely Mexican-American neighborhood Saturday in support of immigration reform, calling for lawmakers to create a policy that allows undocumented workers to keep their families intact and have a path to U.S. citizenship.
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Associated Press Writer Lisa Orkin in Florida and John Porretto in Houston contributed to this story.


Updated : 2020-12-05 05:09 GMT+08:00