Former President George W. Bush (R) is offering his thoughts on how the United States can restore confidence in the nation’s immigration system.
In an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Friday, the former president shared his motive behind creating a new collection of portraits of immigrants, entitled “Out of Many, One.”
The two things he wanted to accomplish with his paintings were “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 explained, “The backgrounds are varied, but readers won’t have to search hard for a common theme. It’s gratitude. So many immigrants are filled with appreciation.”
Asking, “How 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 suggested, “The issue has been exploited in ways that do little credit to either party.”
He argued, “No proposal on immigration will have credibility without confidence that our laws are carried out consistently and in good faith.”
Touching on how the nation can restore confidence in the system, Bush said one place to start is “DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Americans who favor a path to citizenship for those brought here as children, known as ‘dreamers,’ are not advocating open borders.”
Instead, “They just recognize that young men and women who grew up in the United States, and who never knew any other place as home, are fundamentally American. And they ought not be punished for choices made by their parents.”
When discussing the border, Bush is hopeful the United States can “be both a lawful and a welcoming nation at the same time.”
Bush acknowledged the nation’s border needs to be “secure and efficient” and advocated for using “all the necessary resources” to achieve this goal.
According to Bush, border management starts “well beyond the border.” He explained the nation needs to work with other countries to “help them build freedom and opportunity so their citizens can thrive at home.”
Calling for a “modernized asylum system,” Bush added, “The rules for asylum should be reformed by Congress to guard against unmerited entry and reserve that vital status for its intended recipients.”
He said one choice both parties can get behind is increased legal immigration focused on employment and skills.
Turning his focus to undocumented men and women living in the United States, Bush wrote, “A grant of amnesty would be fundamentally unfair to those who came legally or are still waiting their turn to become citizens.”
He continued, “But undocumented immigrants 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.”
Confident bipartisan reform is possible, Bush believes the nation will “see immigration for what it is: not a problem and source of discord, but a great and defining asset of the United States.”
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