Former President George W. Bush urged Americans Friday to join him in supporting widespread amnesty for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children and those living in the country illegally.
“Americans who favor a path to citizenship for those brought here as children, known as ‘dreamers,’ are not advocating open borders,” Bush wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
Bush pointed to former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program and called for a permanent amnesty for recipients.
Bush argued DACA recipients were “fundamentally American” and did not know any other home than the United States.
“They ought not be punished for choices made by their parents,” he wrote.
Bush is on a media tour promoting Out of Many, One, his book of stories and paintings of immigrant Americans.
He said that amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants in the United States would “fundamentally unfair” but still supported amnesty for illegals who “earned” citizenship.
He proposed amnesty for illegal immigrants in the United States who had proof of work history, paid a fine and back taxes, the ability to speak English, possessed knowledge of American history, and passed a criminal background check.
“The United States is better off when talented people bring their ideas and aspirations here,” he wrote.
The former president also called for increasing legal immigration, calling it “a choice that both parties should be able to get behind” and proposed also increasing temporary immigrant visas for seasonal work.
Bush tried to pass widespread amnesty for illegal immigrants in 2007 with the support of late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA).
But the bill failed miserably in the Senate after only 33 Senate Democrats, 12 Senate Republicans, and one independent voted to support the bill. Fifteen Senate Democrats joined 37 Senate Republicans and one independent in voting against it.
In a recent interview with Norah O’Donnell, Bush agreed that failure to pass immigration reform was one of the biggest disappointments of his presidency.
“I campaigned on immigration reform,” he said. “I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do.”