The national anthem should be sung in English — not Spanish — President Bush declared Friday, amid growing restlessness over whether to grant legal status to immigrants who are in the United States illegally.
"One of the important things here is that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed.
A Spanish language version of the national anthem was released Friday by a British music producer, Adam Kidron, who said he wanted to honor America's immigrants.
When the president was asked at a Rose Garden question-and-answer session whether the anthem should be sung in Spanish, he replied: "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."
He made his remarks on the matters during a wide-ranging briefing with reporters.
"I think people who want to be citizens of this country ought to learn English," Bush said.
The president's comments came amid a burgeoning national debate — and congressional fight — over legislation pending in Congress, and pushed by Bush, to overhaul U.S. immigration law.
Bush called on lawmakers to move forward on legislation — now stalled — that would revamp immigration laws.
Large numbers of immigrant groups have planned an economic boycott next week to dramatize their call for legislation providing legal status for millions of people in the United States illegally.
"I am not a supporter of boycotts," Bush said. "I am a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. ... I think that most Americans agree that we've got to enforce our border."
His remarks followed release of the Spanish language version of the song, called "Nuestro Himno" or "Our Anthem."