Bush: Republicans Need to Be ‘More Respectful About the Immigrant’

Former President George W. Bush said Sunday during an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell that lawmakers need to be more respectful to immigrants.

In the interview that aired on “CBS Sunday Morning,” O’Donnell asked, “Do you want to be involved in the immigration discussion?”

Bush said, “Yeah, I do, in a way, in a way. I don’t want to be prescriptive. I don’t want to, you know, tell Congress how to do this or that. I do want to say to Congress, ‘Please put aside all the harsh rhetoric about immigration. Please put aside trying to score political points on either side.’ I hope I can help set a tone that is more respectful about the immigrant, which may lead to reform of the system.”

On May 15, 2006, President Bush gave an Oval Office address on immigration, in which he said, “We are a nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws. We are also a nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways. These are not contradictory goals – America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time.”

O’Donnell said, “It’s been 15 years.”

Bush said, “I know it.”

O’Donnell said, “Still nothing’s been done.”

Bush said, “No, a lot of executive orders, but all that means is that Congress isn’t doing its job.”

O’Donnell said, “Is it one of the biggest disappointments of your presidency, not being – ”

Bush said, “Yes, it really is. I campaigned on immigration reform. I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do.”

He added, “The problem with the immigration debate is that one can create a lot of fear: They’re comin’ after you. But it’s a nation that is willing to accept the refugee or the harmed or the frightened, that to me is a great nation. And we are a great nation, and we are a great nation.”

O’Donnell said, “The former president supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants if they pass a background check and pay back taxes. And if that were the proposal by President Biden. would you lobby your own party to support that?”

Bush said, “I am right now. Whether my own party listens to me or not’s another question.”

He added, “But it’s a part of hopefully creating a better understanding about the role of immigrants in our society. Mine is just a small voice in what I hope is a chorus of people saying, ‘Let’s see if we can’t solve the problem.'”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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