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EXCLUSIVE: Former President George W. Bush said the immigration system was “broken” because Congress “failed to act” while saying the US could “both welcome and insist” on border enforcement.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News about his new book, Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants, the former president discussed current immigration policies and possible remedies for the system.
Former President George W. Bush paints portraits of immigrants to change the tone of the immigration debate
“They are not going to solve this if there is politics,” Bush told Fox News. “If you think about where we are right now, you have people on one side of the aisle blaming the former president and people on the other side of the aisle blaming the current president.
“And the truth is, the system broke because Congress didn’t act.”
But Bush added that “the people who are guilty are really guilty, the people who take advantage of human misery and bill desperate people and take them to the border with no plan to get them into the country.”
“I’m sure they are telling them falsehoods – ‘follow me, I’ll take you in’ – and these poor people have no way of verifying and are stuck on the border,” said Bush.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced last week that more than 178,000 migrants were encountered in April, an increase of over 900% from April 2020. CBP encountered 178,622 migrants attempting to enter the U.S. in April an increase of 3% from 172,000 in the previous month, which was the highest number in 20 years.
“What you see is a boundary that reflects a broken system and changes need to be made,” he continued. “There needs to be changes to work visas so people don’t have to sneak in to do work that needs to be done in America. There needs to be changes to the asylum system so that cases can be resolved quickly.”
He added, “And what people need to understand is that a broken system will make it harder to enforce the border. A reformed system will make it easier to enforce the border, and that is exactly what has to happen.”
Bush told Fox News that he thinks Congress needs to take a “step-by-step approach.”
“I don’t think Congress will be able to do everything with one comprehensive bill. I think there needs to be a step-by-step approach so that people can gain confidence in the ability to work with the other side,” said Bush.
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Bush initially recommended working on the Obama era DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which was restored under the Biden administration.
“I think if you were to say to the American people, ‘It is good policy to raise a child in the United States whose parents brought that child here outside of the law, to find that child and bring them to a country Send them back where they don’t have a home? ‘Most Americans would say it doesn’t make sense,’ said Bush.
“If they were to fix DACAs, which are limited in number, people could suddenly say, wow, we can work together and get something done,” he said, also pointing out worker programs where “low-skilled workers” can legally come into the country to get jobs done that need to be done. ”
“You come over here in Texas, people are looking for workers,” Bush said. “And I think that can be fixed. And the same goes for highly skilled workers.”
He added, “I think there are some areas where we should be able to come together.”
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In his book, Bush illuminates the story of Alfredo Duarte from Mexico. Duarte, now a naturalized American citizen, first came to the US illegally, which Bush says is “an interesting point of view.”
Bush told Fox News that his new book was made while painting “with no project in mind”. Bush said a friend came up to him and said the country needed his “voice on the immigration debate”.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m not so sure I want to get involved in politics,’ and he said, ‘Well, why don’t you paint immigrants,'” Bush recalled. “And it was one of those moments when it was incredibly insightful, and I thought, wow, great idea.”
Bush painted and wrote the book in 2020 but told Fox News, “The timing of the book had little to do with the current immigration debate.”
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“In other words, I think it’s a coincidence that immigration became such a hot topic,” said Bush. “But the purpose of this book wasn’t to create a hot topic – the purpose of the book was to change the tone of the debate and get people to focus on the beauty of immigration, not the dirty side of it Immigration.”
Bush told Fox News that the change in rhetoric “begins with the premise that we are all children of God and that every life is important”.
“Well, when that becomes the basis for solving a problem, the tone of the rhetoric changes and the rhetoric becomes less alienating and more welcoming,” he said.
“And I think you can both welcome and insist on border control,” Bush said. “And that’s really the purpose of the book.”