Though he vowed to avoid stepping into a political debate, former President George W. Bush (R) still criticized U.S. immigration policy and urged lawmakers to find a "positive resolution" during a speech to newly-naturalized citizens, NBC News reported.
"We can uphold our traditions of assimilating immigrants, and honoring our heritage of our nation built on the rule of law," Bush said at a ceremony held at his presidential library in Texas. "But we have a problem. The laws governing the immigration system aren't working; the system is broken."
Bush's remarks come amid continued debate about how the country can proceed with reforming the current system. While the Senate passed a bill on June 27 calling for enhanced border security guidelines on top of a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., it led to the resignation of one member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Filemon Vega (D-TX) in opposition to the security pre-requisites in the bill.
Meanwhile, not only have Republican senators like Rand Paul (R-KY) expressed their doubts in public that the Senate bill would make it through the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, but several conservative pundits have gone on record calling for the party to ignore the heavily Latino pro-immigration voter bloc and focus on courting white voters.
Also, Talking Points Memo reported on Tuesday that conservative magazine editors Bill Kristol and Rich Lowry encouraged House Republicans to "kill the bill" in a joint opinion piece for the National Review, while House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) planned to force Democrats to agree to border security triggers without the guarantee of citizenship for immigrants affected by future legislation, which could further weaken the party's standing with Republican voters -- a marked strength during Bush's presidency, when he won the support of 44 percent of that electorate.
"I don't intend to get involved in the politics or the specifics of policy, but I do hope there's a positive resolution to the debate," Bush said on Wednesday. "I hope, during the debate, we keep a benevolent spirit in mind, and we understand the contributions immigrants make to our country."
Watch Bush's remarks, posted online by NBC News on Wednesday, below.
[h/t Mother Jones]