Bush Still Pushing for Immigration Reform

Former president hopes for 'benevolent spirit' in coming debate.

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Former President George W. Bush gives a speech at a U.S. citizen swearing in ceremony at the The George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, July 10, 2013.

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Former President George W. Bush stated his most bold and direct support for pending immigration reform policy Wednesday, in remarks at his presidential library in Texas ahead of a citizenship ceremony.

Bush, who pushed for immigration reform during his eight years as president, countered opposition currently espoused by House Republicans who refuse to take up a bipartisan Senate-backed measure .

"We're a nation of immigrants and we must uphold that tradition which has strengthened our country in so many ways," Bush said. "We can uphold our traditions of assimilating immigrants and honoring our heritage of a nation built on the rule of law. But we have a problem, the laws governing the immigration system aren't working. The system is broken."

Bush said he didn't want to get into a political debate or policy specifics, but nonetheless waded into the hot topic on the very day House Republicans are meeting to discuss a plan for moving on the issue.

[READ: Bush Backs Immigration Reform Bill]

"I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate and I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind, and we understand the positive contributions immigrants make to our country," Bush said. "We must remember that the vast majority of immigrants are decent people who work hard to support their families and practice their faith and lead responsible lives. Some willingly defend the flag, including two who are about to take the oath here today."

Meanwhile a House Republican who had been working with colleagues in an ultimately failed venture to craft a counter-measure to the Senate bill said it's not Republicans standing in the way of reform, but Democrats.

"It's not my party, it's your party actually that stood in the way of solving it when President Bush wanted to resolve it," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, on MSNBC to former Obama administration official Bill Burton. "So if we want to cast aspersions back and forth we can do that all day."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration welcomed Bush's pro-reform remarks during his daily press briefing.

[ALSO: On the Border, Fear of More Security Grows]

"His comments today reflect his long support for immigration reform; that is a position he has long held to his credit and pushed for as president," Carney said. "What impact anybody's comments about it and about the merit of immigration reform will have remains to be seen. But we certainly welcome everyone's comments in support of it."

Bush's argument for reform carried his signature brand of compassionate conservatism, noting that immigration "is a sign of a confident and successful nation."

"It says something about our country that people all around the world are willing to leave their homes and leave their families and risk everything to come to our country," he said. "Their talent and hard work and love of freedom have helped us become the leader of the world. Our generation must ensure that America remains a beacon of liberty and the most hopeful society that the world has ever known. We must always be proud to welcome people as fellow Americans."

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