WASHINGTON -- When President George W. Bush made a push for immigration reform in 2007, he was fiercely opposed by many on the right, and his proposal ultimately went down to defeat.
Some on the right are now seizing on comments made by Bush during an interview with The Huffington Post, published Thursday, to try to fuel opposition to the current bill.
Bush told HuffPost that "the atmosphere, unlike when I tried it, is better, maybe for the wrong reason."
"The right reason is it's important to reform a broken system. I'm not sure a right reason is that in so doing we win votes," Bush said. "I mean when you do the right thing, I think you win votes, as opposed to doing something that's the right thing to win votes. Maybe there's no difference there. It seems like there is to me, though."
The Washington Examiner picked up on Bush's comments and wrote in their headline that Bush was "skeptical of current immigration push." The Drudge Report posted the Examiner story. And on Thursday evening, Breitbart News wrote a similar piece to the Examiner's, with the headline: "George W. Bush Skeptical of Senate's Immigration Bill." The Heritage Foundation, which has been a leading voice in opposition to the current legislation, tweeted out the Breitbart story.
Bush made clear in the interview at his Texas ranch, however, that he remains in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, which is one of the thorniest issues in the reform push for some on the right, along with the border security component. Bush also said fixing the immigration system was the right thing to do because the current system is "inhumane."
"I mean we ought to be doing it. One, it's right. Two, because the system is broken," Bush said. "It's a system rife with corruption and the corruption being smugglers bringing individuals to do jobs Americans won't do. And it's, to me it's an inhumane system."
"Second it's important for our economy to have people here come on a regularized basis, not permanently necessarily," he said, referencing the guest worker component. "Of course the thorny issue is citizenship and that causes people to scream amnesty, and once the amnesty word gets into the debate, people recoil."
HuffPost asked if he still favored a path to citizenship.
"Yeah, yeah. That's what I proposed in '07. Yeah, I think there ought to be one," Bush said. "And I think there ought to be conditions."