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Demonstrators march June 24, 2007, in Los Angeles in support of the legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
President Bush's hopes for passing an immigration law rested Monday on a fragile compromise rescued from near death to make another appearance on the Senate floor this week.
The president is urging lawmakers to "summon the courage," declaring in his weekly radio address that "the status quo is unacceptable."
The week begins with votes on a series of amendments, followed by a procedural vote that determines whether the compromise language has the 60 votes needed to keep moving toward final passage. The outcome is too close to call.
The measure would tighten borders, require workplace verification and create a guest worker program. It also would lay out a way by which the estimated 12 million people illegally in the U.S. could gain legal status and work toward citizenship.
But Bush faces dissension from fellow Republicans who demand better border security and oppose any policy that suggests amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last week said his support for the bill hinges on the outcome of a series of amendments agreed to as part of the compromise to revive the legislation.
Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), who has faced critical ads at home over his support for the bill, said Sunday, "I'm not committed to voting for the final product. The wheels may come off. But I am committed to trying."
Democrats have taken hits from their usual allies, including labor and some Hispanic groups. They say the proposal is bad for workers or that provisions for obtaining visas place too much emphasis on skills, to the disadvantage of family ties.
"We know what they're against. What are they for?" asked Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-MA. He noted that since the Sept. 11 attacks, there have been 39 hearings on immigration, 23 days of debate in the Senate and 52 amendments.
But Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, a leading critic of the legislation, argued that support for the bill continues to plummet, both among senators thought to be behind it and among the public.
"We are going to use every effort to slow this process down and continue to hold up the bill," he said.
Senate passage would send the issue to the House, where Democratic leaders have promised to take it up at an early date.
From NPR reports and The Associated Press