Former President George W. Bush is shining a light on how immigrants can benefit the U.S.
What You Need To Know
- In his new book and in a Washington Post op-ed Friday, former President George W. Bush is shining a light on how immigrants can benefit the U.S.
- His book, “Out of Many, One,” due out Tuesday, features portraits he painted of immigrants and their stories
- Bush wrote that he didn’t intend for the book to be a brief on specific immigration policies but said it "does set forth principles for reform that can restore the people’s confidence" in the U.S. immigration system
- In his opinion piece, the 43rd president listed areas of immigration that have he believes should have hope for bipartisan cooperation
Bush, who has become an avid painter since leaving the White House in 2009, is publishing a new book, “Out of Many, One,” that features portraits he painted of immigrants and their stories.
The 43rd president wrote an op-ed in Friday’s Washington Post that promoted his forthcoming book, to be released Tuesday, but also weighed in on the ongoing immigration debate.
Some of the book’s subjects include former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger; former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; athletes Gilbert Tuhabonye, Annika Sorenstam and Dirk Nowitzki; Army Capt. Florent Groberg, who earned the Medal of Honor; and Paula Rendon, the Bush family housekeeper whom the former president considered a “second mother.”
“I set out to accomplish two things: to share some portraits of immigrants, each with a remarkable story I try to tell, and to humanize the debate on immigration and reform,” Bush wrote in The Washington Post. “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. 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, 74, wrote that he didn’t intend for the book to be “a brief for any specific set of policies, which I leave to the political leaders of today. However, the book — along with the George W. Bush Presidential Center — does set forth principles for reform that can restore the people’s confidence in an immigration system that serves both our values and our interests.”
The former president shared his views on immigration, which land somewhere in between the Trump administration’s hardline policies and the more welcoming approach of today’s Democrats.
“(H)ow is it that in a country more generous to new arrivals than any other, immigration policy is the source of so much rancor and ill will?” Bush wrote. “The short answer is that the issue has been exploited in ways that do little credit to either party.”
In his opinion piece, Bush listed areas of immigration that have he believes should have hope for bipartisan cooperation.
“I have long said that we can be both a lawful and a welcoming nation at the same time,” he wrote.
The Republican said he believes “dreamers” — young undocumented immigrants who grew up in America — “ought not be punished for choices made by their parents.” He said all necessary resources should be dedicated to securing the border — “manpower, physical barriers, advanced technology, streamlined and efficient ports of entry, and a robust legal immigration system.”
Bush also said the U.S. needs a modernized asylum system that provides humanitarian support and allows refugees to pursue their cases in a timely manner. He called for increased legal immigration that is focused on employment and skills. And he said it would be unfair to those who came legally or are waiting to become citizens if the U.S. granted amnesty to the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country, but he believes they should be brought “out of the shadows through a gradual process in which legal residency and citizenship must be earned, as for anyone else applying for the privilege.”
“We should never forget that the desire to live in the United States — a worldwide and as powerful an aspiration as ever — is an affirmation of our country and what we stand for,” Bush said. “Over the years, our instincts have always tended toward fairness and generosity. The reward has been generations of grateful, hard-working, self-reliant, patriotic Americans who came here by choice.
“If we trust those instincts in the current debate, then bipartisan reform is possible. And 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.”