In an interview with former aide Sarah Isgur and Steve Hayes of The Dispatch to promote his new book that features portraits of immigrants, former President George W. Bush called for ‘immigration reform’ that keeps ‘Dreamers’ in the US and provides a path to citizenship for illegal aliens currently in the U.S., criticized Republicans who support ‘laws based on Anglo-Saxon traditions,’ and claimed ‘White Anglo Saxon Protestantism’ is exclusionary.
Isgur: There have been elements within the Republican Party now that have been in favor of, well, as they phrase it, Anglo Saxon traditions being put into law. I’m curious whether this is your vision of the Republican Party? If they followed that strain in three years or five years, where you would say, I am not a Republican?
Bush: I’d say they’re not going to be a party. Yeah, I read about that. And I’m saying to myself, people need to read my book. (Laughter) It’s like saying when I was running for governor of Texas, you’ll never get any Latino votes because you’re a Republican. And I said you watch. And I worked hard. And the key thing was to let them know that I could hear their voice. Democracy is great in that sense. And the idea of the kind of saying you can only be a Republican if, the ultimate extension of that is it ends up being a one-person party.
Hayes: We’ve seen other elements and that some of the same people we’re talking about starting the Anglo-Saxon caucus are the people who were hyping up the idea that the election was stolen from Joe Biden. More than 50 percent of Republicans across the country think the election was stolen. Do you?
Bush: No, I guess I’m one of the other 50 percent. By the way, I’m still a Republican, probably will be a Republican. I think Republicans will have a second chance to govern because I believe that the Biden administration is a uniting factor. And particularly on the fiscal side of things. So we’ll see. But I know this if the Republican Party stands for exclusivity, you know, it used to be country clubs now it’s a white Anglosaxon Protestantism, then it’s not going to win anything.
Earlier in the interview, Bush said “Dreamers” – illegal aliens who arrived as Unaccompanied Children – should be allowed to stay in the US.
Bush: I think so. I think that Dreamers, most Americans understand you’re not going to take a kid that came over here as a young person and send them back to nowhere. I mean there’s no place to go. And I put a Dreamer in the book, just want to make the case that a lot of these Dreamers are making significant contributions. Carlos is an engineer doing extremely well in San Antonio. I think piecemeal probably makes sense, and I think the President, if I could be so bold, [should] call in Republicans who are like-minded and say “Let’s see if we can’t get something done.”
You know, border security is always a touchstone issue on this, and Americans have got to be assured that the government is doing everything they can to enforce the border. But there ought to be a recognition that without some reforms—Let me rephrase it: Reforming will make it easier to enforce the border. So, for example, if there’s work to be done and somebody’s got a work visa that enables them to come legally, they’re not going to have to sneak across the border, which means Border Patrol will be more likely to do their job. Right now, the asylum system is totally broken.
I mean, it’s overwhelmed, and we got Border Patrol agents who are not enforcing the law like they’re trained to do, kind of driving kids around to different sites or guarding places in West Texas. And so comprehensive may be too big of a reach right now. Like if they can get DACA done with some border enhancement plans to give Republicans comfort in voting for the bill, then all of a sudden there’s confidence to be gained, and then they can deal with the work or they can deal with the undocumented. But, yeah, that may be a better approach.
Bush also said illegal aliens residing in the U.S. should have a path to citizenship.
Bush: I don’t think so. I think that it’s like saying somebody who’s been here for 10 years and has paid their taxes and is a good American shouldn’t be given the opportunity to come out of the shadows. You know, I think one could argue any reform provides further incentive. But the question is, is reform going to make our border policy more compassionate and more enforceable? And I happen to think it would. But look, they’re all legitimate arguments. But what’s the alternative? I mean, just let these kids who’ve been here for a long time and are contributing fear being kicked out to nowhere? I don’t think that makes sense. And I think most Americans agree with that, you know. You’ll be happy to hear I’m not paying attention to the polls much these days.
In mid April, the former president wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post about his newest book, Out of Many, One. “The book may not set the art world stirring — hopefully, the critics won’t call it ‘One Too Many,’” Bush wrote.
He added, “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.”
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Photo “George W. Bush” by George W. Bush.