President George W. Bush urged Congress to address America’s “broken” immigration system on Wednesday even as he offered few recommendations on how best to do so.
“We can uphold our traditions of assimilating immigrants and honoring our heritage of a nation built on the rule of law,” Bush said at a citizenship ceremony at his presidential library in Texas. “But, we have a problem: the laws governing the immigration system aren’t working.”
In his second term, the president lent his support to repeated efforts to reform the nation’s immigration laws along lines broadly similar to the Senate’s recently passed bill. Now reformers are worried their latest push is in danger of falling short as well. Speaker John Boehner is meeting with House Republicans on Wednesday to discuss a path forward on the issue, but he’s publicly signaled an unwillingness to buck his conservative caucus on any legislation and pass a compromise with Democrats. Unless he relents, it’s unlikely there are enough votes within his party for anything but a handful of small enforcement-focused immigration bills with virtually zero chance of becoming law.
Many of Bush’s former aides and cabinet members, including Karl Rove, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, are working on efforts to encourage comprehensive reform. The president is keeping his distance from the current fight, but it’s clear he’s unhappy with the prospect of an immigration fix failing to pass yet again.
“I don’t intend to get involved in the politics or the specifics of policy,” he said. “But, I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate.”