And so, he explained, We should never support a policy that undermines the rule of law, that is undermining what has made our country what it is. He added that such undermining includes Anything that rewards or ratifies illegal conduct.
So anyone who comes to our country whose first step on American soil is to thumb their nose at American law, violate our laws, we should not reward them, Brooks said.
Pressure to act is building from outside the Capitol, however, as Republican establishment figures and influential special-interest groups push hard for a legalization program. They see political consequences: The Republican presidential nominee got 27 percent of the 2012 vote, and party officials fear they might lose even more support in the Latino community if they appear intolerant or insensitive.
Bush offered his views Wednesday at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas. "We can uphold our tradition of assimilating immigrants and honoring our heritage of our nation built on the rule of law. But we have a problem," he said. "The laws governing the immigration system arent working; the system is broken."
An advocate of a broad overhaul of immigration laws, Bush enjoyed the support of 44 percent of Hispanics when he was re-elected in 2004. But he failed to get an overhaul through Congress, left office with his overall popularity hurt by unpopular wars and recession, and has little influence in the party.
"I dont intend to get involved in the politics or the specifics of policy, but I do hope theres a positive resolution to the debate," he said. "And I hope, during the debate, we keep a benevolent spirit in mind, and we understand the contributions immigrants make to our country."
The White House offered its own offensive Wednesday: President Barack Obamas administration released a report that shows the Senate bill would boost the U.S. economy and help create jobs.
The report released by the presidents National Economic Council, Domestic Policy Council, Office of Management and Budget, and Council of Economic Advisers indicates that changes to the immigration system also would lower federal budget deficits. Obama met Wednesday with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and said hed press the economic argument.
Today, too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers, and there are 11 million people living and working in the shadow economy. Neither is good for the economy or the country. It is time to fix our broken immigration system, the report said.
It includes statements of support from organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Tax Reform and the Business Roundtable for an immigration overhaul.
Video: Debate on Border Control Divides Opinions in US