April 18 (UPI) -- Former President George W. Bush on Sunday called on Congress to set aside "harsh rhetoric" surrounding U.S. immigration.
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, the Republican 43rd president urged lawmakers to work together to pass bipartisan legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
"I do want to say to Congress, please put aside all of the harsh rhetoric about immigration, please put aside trying to score political points on either side. I hope I can help set a tone that is more respectful about the immigrant, which may lead to reform of the system," Bush said.
He described failing to pass similar legislation during his eight-year tenure as one of the greatest disappointments of his presidency.
"I campaigned on immigration reform. I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do," he said.
Bush proposed a bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for about 12 million undocumented immigrants while also increasing border security during his second term, but it ultimately failed to gain traction in the Senate in 2007.
Currently, Bush says he is lobbying Republicans for support on a measure that would create a pathway to citizenship provided that undocumented immigrants pass background checks and pay back taxes.
"Whether my own party listens to me or not's another question," he said.