Bush and several other U.S. leaders and members of Congress attended a prayer breakfast put on by the Catholic Church. Philadelphia Cardinal Joseph Bevilacqua, who is a specialist in immigration matters, and Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick were also on hand.
U.S. Catholic leaders have spoken strongly in the debate on immigration reform. Religious leaders are particularly upset about a section of a U.S. House-passed bill that would make it illegal to help illegal immigrants. A Senate reform bill doesn't include such language.
Bush has been seeking immigration reform, including a temporary worker program, for some time. He asked that the debate continue in a "civil tone."
Friday he said: "An immigration system that forces people into the shadows of our society, or leaves them prey to criminals is a system that needs to be changed. I'm confident that we can change our immigration system in ways that secures our border, respects the rule of law, and, as importantly, upholds the decency of our country."