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Immigration overhaul's odds good, Bush says

| Sunday, July 7, 2013, 7:33 p.m.
AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama (R) and former US President George W. Bush arrive on July 2, 2013 for a wreath-laying ceremony for the victims of the 1998 US Embassy bombing at the Bombing Memorial in Dar Es Salaam. Bush is in Tanzania for a forum of regional First Ladies, hosted by his wife Laura, which will also be attended by First Lady Michelle Obama. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The immigration reform plan working its way through Congress “has a chance to pass,” former President George W. Bush said.

“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 an interview on ABC's “This Week” that aired on Sunday. “It's a very difficult bill to pass because there is a lot of moving parts, and the legislative process can be ugly. But it looks like they're making progress.”

He added, “Good policy yields good politics, as far as I'm concerned.”

The Senate last month passed immigration overhaul legislation on a 68-32 vote. The plan would establish a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. House Republicans, who compose the majority in that chamber, are expected to meet on Wednesday in Washington to discuss the topic. Many of them oppose the Senate's citizenship provisions.

The Senate's immigration bill would cut illegal immigration by a third to a half over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, Congress's nonpartisan scorekeeper. The measure, if enacted, would add 9.6 million residents to the United States by 2023. The bill calls for $46.3 billion in border security measures, including doubling the number of Border Patrol agents.

The Senate border control measure “is not a responsible plan,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Without a proposal that can attract bipartisan support, immigration reform legislation will stall and instead become an issue in the 2014 congressional elections, he said in an interview on CBS' “Face the Nation.”

“My concern is that the political backdrop is that the White House would like to see this fail” for its own political gain, he said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he won't allow debate on the bill unless it has the support of a majority of House Republicans. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Republicans must help pass the bill if they ever hope to win the presidency.

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