Washington: US President George W Bush says the national anthem should be sung in English - not Spanish – in a blunt rejection of a new Spanish-language version.
He also expressed opposition to a national work stoppage called for Monday to dramatise the importance of immigrants to the US economy.
"I'm not a supporter of boycotts," Bush said yesterday while restating his support for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.
Bush made his comments at a news conference as a Spanish-language version of "The Star Spangled Banner," hit the airways featuring artists such as Wyclef Jean, hip-hop star Pitbull and Puerto Rican singers Carlos Ponce and Olga.
Called "Nuestro Himno" - "Our Anthem" - the Spanish version rewrites some of the English version. For instance, the second stanza says, "My people keep fighting. It's time to break the chains."
"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," Bush said.
Monday's planned boycott and the emergence of a Spanish-language anthem are ingredients in a US debate over how to deal with an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US.
It is an issue that has sent hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets of major US cities to demand the lowering of citizenship barriers.
Congress is struggling to deal with the issue, and the House of Representatives and Senate are moving on opposite tracks.