In a speech today, former U.S. President George W. Bush has voiced support for immigration reform. It comes on the same day as a new White House report on the positive economic impact of proposed immigration reform. Bush is the latest in a growing group of high-profile supporters that crosses party lines and industries.
"The laws governing the immigration system aren't working," Bush said. "The system is broken." The former president said he hopes for a "positive resolution" to the current debate over immigration reform, but avoided policy specifics. While a comprehensive immigration-reform bill passed the U.S. Senate in June, political observers expect it to face opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
The bill's provisions include a visa for foreign-born startup founders and an increase in the number of visas available to highly skilled workers, such as those employed by technology companies. The bill also would make citizenship possible for the millions of immigrants already living illegally in America.
Bush's brief remarks took place at a naturalization ceremony for 20 new American citizens at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas. "I welcome you to this free nation," he told them. "It's an honor to call you fellow Americans." The ceremony kicked off a policy gathering at the Institute on the subject of immigration and economic growth.
Bush spoke about the contributions of immigrants who have strengthened the U.S., spotlighting Irish immigrant James Hoban, who designed the White House in the 1790s. The former president joked that he was "familiar with the place" and said Hoban "did a fine job."
Bush's brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, publicly voiced his support for the immigration-reform bill last week. In the business community, staunch supporters of the bill include billionaire Steve Case, who co-founded AOL, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who formed a lobbying group in April to push for immigration reform on Capitol Hill.