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US needs more time for immigration reform

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US senators crafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill complained on March 15 that a deadline set by Majority Leader Bill Frist could hurt the chances for a guest worker program.

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee say they need additional time to consider many difficult issues, including include guest workers and the disposition of 11 million immigrants who are in this country illegally.

"This is a complicated bill. We've got to do it right," said committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

Frist wants the full Senate to begin debate on an immigration reform bill on March 27, and is threatening to bring his own legislation to the floor if the committee fails to complete a bill.

"I told him that would be a very serious mistake," Specter said. "It would just be chaos to bring this to the floor."

Specter is asking for a couple of weeks to allow his committee to finish, but Frist has made clear that he wants the Senate take care of border security measures and employer sanctions before it addresses guest worker provisions.

He said he would not delay in bringing the bill to the full Senate for consideration.

Democratic lawmakers said they are concerned about the rushed process, noting that immigration is a complex issue needs serious consideration.