George W. Bush: Time to Fix 'Broken' Immigration System

Sunday, 07 Jul 2013 12:23 PM

By Greg Richter

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Former President George W. Bush said in an interview that the nation's immigration system was "broken" and needs to treat "people with respect."

"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 in a pre-taped interview on ABC's "This Week."

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Bush acknowledged that the issue was difficult to solve but that Congress was making progress in writing legislation.

"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 said.

Bush, who appeared on the show with former first lady Laura Bush, said he generally doesn't like to comment on political issues.

"The only way I can really make news is either criticize the president, which I don't want to do, criticize my own party or wade in on a controversial issue," Bush said in the interview taped at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, near the George W. Bush Institute's African First Ladies Summit.

"I'm off the stage," he said, "unless I'm promoting something I strongly believe in. And I believe that what we're doing in Africa is incredibly important, and will continue to do so ... so long as I'm ambulatory."

The Bushes were in Tanzania for a forum Mrs. Bush hosted for African first ladies that was also attended by Michelle Obama.

Programs enacted by Bush have helped fight HIV on the continent, and he was asked about critics who say his work there is an attempt to make up for mistakes he made in Iraq or elsewhere.

Bush shook his head vigorously and said, "Let 'em continue to babble."

The former president said he was frustrated Social Security reform was not passed while he was in office. "I thought the plan I'd laid out on both [immigration and Social Security] was reasonable. But sometimes, it takes time for some of these complex issues to evolve."

Bush denied he had pushed too hard for democracy in the Middle East.

"What you're seeing is an evolution," he said. "Democracies take a while to take root."

Despite the tumult of the situation, Bush said it is good that people are demanding their rightful place.

"They overthrew a corrupt regime in Tunisia. They were unhappy with leadership that wouldn't listen to them in Egypt. But a lesson of September 11 is that in order to have long-term security for the United States democracies need to emerge."

Bush said he is happy President Barack Obama has followed his policies on counter-terrorism. Obama was critical of the Patriot Act and other Bush era policies when he campaigned for the presidency.

"I think the president got into the Oval Office and realized the dangers to the United States," Bush said, "and he's acted in a way that he thinks is necessary to protect the country."

Bush said he doesn't talk to Obama much.

"He's busy. And I'm retired."

Laura Bush lauded her efforts and those of Michelle Obama: "I always think it looks really great for our country, for our presidents and first ladies to be together, whatever their parties are. I think it's a really good example for the world."

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