Former President George W. Bush announced at a naturalization ceremony on Wednesday that he does not plan to get involved in the specifics of the immigration reform debate happening in Washington right now but is glad the conversation is taking place.
“We’re now in an important debate in reforming those laws, and that’s good,” Bush said. “I don’t intend to get involved in the politics or the specifics of policy. But I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate and I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind and that we understand the contributions immigrants make to our country.”
Bush’s lack of an endorsement of any specific policy is telling. This is now the third opportunity he has had to publicly endorse the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill and has chosen not to throw his weight behind it on all three occasions.
When Bush first avoided endorsing the bill back in May, former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino–now a co-host of Fox News Channel’s The Five—told Breitbart News that Bush “long ago was for immigration reform and he put a stake in the sand in 2007.”
“Sometimes debates take a long time to air themselves out – that’s happening now and there’s a long way from this bill to a signed law,” Perino said.
That larger debate over what constitutes immigration reform, and what would actually solve the nation’s problems rather than being a political fix, appears to be happening right now. People like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), among others, believe the system is “broken,” and want to come up with a legislative solution that addresses both the issues of border security and citizenship. But, for the time being, any reform advocate has been forced to debate inside the box the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill created; either lawmakers and policy players were for the Gang of Eight bill, or they were painted as being against reform.
As many in the political establishment, including Bush and now the editors of Politico, are beginning to notice, that box is coming undone. From there, immigration solutions like the SAFE Act offered by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) or the “Keeping the Promise of IRCA Act” from Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), and many other offerings outside of just the Gang of Eight bill can be discussed.
Nonetheless, any debate about immigration comes back to what poll after poll indicates the majority of the American public wants: interior immigration law enforcement and border security before legalization of America’s at least 11 million illegal aliens.