She said Bush set out a framework for immigration reform in the early months of his presidency, before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks changed the direction of his administration, and then tried in 2006 and 2007 to get an immigration overhaul through Congress.
"Though he didn't succeed, he has a long track record of working on this issue," she said.
The current push for reform comes from both a recognition that the system is "broken or is dysfunctional" and an acknowledgement that it will be an important issue for both parties, she said.
James K. Glassman, executive director of the Bush Institute, said that when the institute was identifying policy areas that could help grow the economy, immigration was one of the points that quickly emerged.
"We need to attract the best and brightest and keep them here," Glassman said.
Glassman added that the U.S. also needs a solution for those who are already in the country illegally.
He said the institute's goal is to raise the visibility of immigration issues, making sure that economic growth is connected to immigration. "We see our role as being longer term and broader," Glassman said.
"We didn't plan on this being so timely, but there is no doubt it is extremely timely," Glassman said.