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Bush tells students to push immigration reform

The president addresses graduates at diverse Miami Dade College.

Published April 29, 2007


MIAMI - President Bush, pushing for a breakthrough on a broad immigration overhaul, appealed to graduating college students in this diverse city Saturday for help in persuading Congress to produce a bill.

Bush gave the commencement address 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 in his speech before 5, 000 people, including 1, 500 graduates.

Bush got a standing ovation and fervent applause, even as hundreds of protesters waved signs along the perimeter of the suburban Kendall campus opposing the Iraq war and calling for the president's impeachment.

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.

Conservatives reject his approach as too lenient toward lawbreakers.

Bush 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.

Information from the New York Times was used in this report.

[Last modified April 29, 2007, 01:21:09]

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