Our Views: Bush’s advice still sound

He’s said it before, in different ways, and his party has not listened. Perhaps in this latest immigration debate in Congress, the words of former President George W. Bush will be heeded.

“I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate,” Bush said Wednesday in Dallas. “And I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind, and we understand the contributions immigrants make to our country.”

He spoke in one of the ceremonies in which people from around the world take the oath of allegiance to become citizens of the United States. The ceremony was held at Bush’s presidential library.

The former president’s advice may not be heeded in the Congress, where Bush as president failed to achieve an overhaul of immigration laws in 2007. The problem of people coming to this country illegally, many of them overstaying valid visas, has only grown since. Enforcement of a crazy quilt of law and regulations is a mess.

All this cries out for some legislation, although liberals and conservatives have found some faults in the Senate bill that is now in limbo, awaiting House action. What Bush said ought to give a lead. “At its core, immigration is a sign of a confident and successful nation,” he said.

Bush speaks Spanish and enjoyed significant support among Hispanic Americans during his runs for office. His party faces bleak prospects of regaining that level of support for its candidates. If the facts of the situation do not move Republicans toward legislation, the politics of the matter should.