Fmr. Pres. Bush says he Tried to Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Photo: --- George W. Bush
Former President George W. Bush, in his memoirs, is now saying that the failure to reform the U.S.’s immigration laws is the result of parties pressure from the electoral process to select ideological pure candidates.
During his second term in office, Bush proposed comprehensive immigration reform, that would have granted citizenship to illegal immigrants who paid fines and learned English, but he was stopped by congressional leaders in his own Republican Party.
In ‘Decision Points’, the name of his memoirs, Bush stated ‘the failure of immigration reform points out larger concerns about the direction of our politics.’
Bush also said the blend of isolationism, protectionism and nativism that affected the immigration debate also led Congress to block free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, adding that lawmakers on both sides of the political fence have been impractical on the issue.
He believes that those tied to organized labor opposed guest worker program necessary for economic growth, and conservatives opposed citizenship as well as measures that would stop human rights abuses and the exploitation of undocumented workers.
In the 477-page autobiography, Bush said one way to reduce the ideological extremes in Congress is to change the way we elect members of Congress, noting that in 2006, only 45 of 435 House members were seriously contested in the general election. He adds that members were more vulnerable to an attack within their own party during primary elections.
‘The result is that members of Congress from both parties tend to drift toward the extremes as insurance against primary challengers,’ Bush said.
He also says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s failure to keep lawmakers in session over the July 4th weekend in 2007, caused the former president’s comprehensive immigration reform to fall just a couple of voted short of passing.