W. Plays Cards Close to Chest on Immigration

W. Plays Cards Close to Chest on Immigration

Former President George W. Bush again offered support for the concept of immigration reform–with a caveat of skepticism for the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill in an interview with ABC News’ This Week that aired on Sunday.

“I think it’s very important to fix a broken system, to treat people with respect, and have confidence in our capacity to assimilate people,” Bush said, according to interview excerpts provided to Politico’s Mike Allen. 

“It’s a very difficult bill to pass, because there’s a lotta moving parts. And the legislative process..can be ugly. …But it looks like they’re making some progress.”

Bush stopped short of endorsing current legislation.

“I was also frustrated we didn’t pass Social Security reform,” Bush added. “I thought the plan I’d laid out on both was reasonable. But sometimes, it takes time for some of these complex issues to evolve. And looks like immigration…has a chance to pass….[T]he reason to pass immigration reform is not to bolster a Republican party. It’s to fix a system that’s broken. Good policy yields good politics, as far as I’m concerned.”

Bush has continued to decide against issuing an outright endorsement of the bill, though he continues to support immigration reform as a policy concept. 

When the Huffington Post’s Jon Ward asked him about the Senate immigration overhaul efforts last month, he similarly would not endorse the bill and questioned the motivations for it.

“I think the atmosphere, unlike when I tried it, is better, maybe for the wrong reason,” Bush told Ward. “The right reason is it’s important to reform a broken system. I’m not sure a right reason is that in so doing we win votes.”

“I mean when you do the right thing, I think you win votes, as opposed to doing something that’s the right thing to win votes,” Bush added then. “Maybe there’s no difference there. It seems like there is to me though.”

Bush is expected to speak on immigration issues this coming Wednesday, but it remains unclear if he will endorse the bill at that event. Bush’s forthcoming remarks will come during a citizenship ceremony and immigration forum in Dallas. The panel Bush is scheduled to contribute to is entitled: “What Immigrants Contribute.”

Bush’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has taken a different tact than the former president in dealing with the Gang of Eight bill. Jeb Bush, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, has endorsed the bill numerous times most recently in a call for House Republicans to support the plan or something like it. 

House GOP leadership and the majority of the rank-and-file in the House do not support the bill and consider it dead-on-arrival in their chamber of Congress.