Former President Offers His Perspective on Current Immigration Issues

Image Courtesy of Republic World

By Jeremy Perillo, Politics Editor for The Tower

Former President George W. Bush offered his point of view on the immigration standoff currently occurring in Washington between the Biden administration and congressional Republicans. In a Washington Post op-ed, while promoting his new collection of paintings titled “Out of Many, One,” Bush shared his perspective on the debate as well as mentioned aspects of reform that could restore confidence to the immigration system.

“I hope that these faces, and the stories that accompany them, serve as a reminder that immigration isn’t just a part of our heritage,” Bush said. “New Americans are just as much a force for good now, with their energy, idealism and love of country, as they have always been.”

Bush proposes the question of “why?” Why has the United States, a country built on immigrants, delved into an atmosphere where the mere conversation of immigration policy brings up sentiments of rancor and ill will? He points to the exploitation of the issue by both parties, and the subsequent creation of a lack of confidence in immigration laws in the U.S.

While Bush is quick to assert that he isn’t trying to set forth any specific policies, making it clear that he is leaving it up to the current political leaders, the book does set forth “principles for reform that can restore confidence in an immigration system” that don’t compromise American values or interests.

He voices support for DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which gives a path to citizenship for those brought here as children. Bush also argues that there is room for compromise with the border itself. 

“We need a secure and efficient border, and we should apply all the necessary resources — manpower, physical barriers, advanced technology, streamlined and efficient ports of entry, and a robust legal immigration system — to assure it,” Bush said.

One of the bigger points that the former president mentions is that he supports a clear path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented individuals living in the U.S. and sees a blanket grant of amnesty as unfair to those who came here legally. Those applying for citizenship, in Bush’s view, should be required to prove work history, pay a fine and back taxes, have English proficiency and knowledge of U.S. history and civics, and pass a clean background check.

As Biden parts his relatively short op-ed, he states that if bipartisan reform is embraced, “we will again see immigration for what it is: not a problem and source of discord, but a great and defining asset of the United States.”

In an interview with NBC’s Hoda Kotb not long after the release of his opinion piece, Bush stated that the current Republican party is “isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist.” Considering Bush once helmed the party, the rebuke comes as a stark contrast to how the Republican party has shifted since the early 2000s.

When pressed if the shift in the party is disappointing to see, Bush replied, “Well, it is not exactly my vision but I am just an old guy they put out to pasture. Just a simple painter.”

As the country ponders the Trump years and the after-effects it has had on the Republican party particularly, it’s increasingly interesting to see these so-called “old-age” Republicans rebuke the party they once supported vehemently. 

Bush has given his advice, appealing to a less-radical form of the Republican party, and the question now becomes, is anyone listening?

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