- (Photo: Reuters/Jason Cohn)
Former President George W. Bush who has spent the past four years out of the political limelight, addressed immigration reform in a speech in Dallas on Tuesday, saying it would help boost the economy.
"Immigrants come with new skills and new ideas," Bush told those gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas. "They fill a critical part in our labor market. They work hard for a better life."
During his second term, the former Texas governor tried to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package with the help of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 2007. However, it was dealt a deathblow by fellow Republicans.
The current Texas governor, Rick Perry, was booed during a Republican presidential debate during the primary when he defended his support for providing in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants.
Last week, two GOP senators from border states – Sen. John Kyl (Ariz.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Texas) – introduced the Achieve Act, which is seen as a watered-down version of the Dream Act that has been touted by Democrats. Their plan would grant legal residency to those under 30 who were brought to the U.S. illegally if they sought higher education or served in the military.
However, both Kyl and Hutchinson are retiring at the end of this year, virtually ensuring the bill will fail in its current form.
Since Mitt Romney received only about 30 percent of the Latino vote in November's loss to President Obama, some Republicans are calling for the party to regroup and come forward with an immigration policy that will demonstrate to Latinos they understand their needs and are willing to offer a path to citizenship.
Bush's institute, called the George W. Bush Institute, published a book in July titled The 4 Percent Solution that focuses on economic growth and touches on immigration reform. The program wants to find ways to focus on achieving 4 percent Gross Domestic Production.
The former president later told reporters he wished he had pushed harder for immigration reform as opposed to focusing on social security reform.