During the 2012 election season, Republicans seeking elected office, including Mitt Romney, didn’t want anyone being reminded of the 43rd president’s notable disasters. That’s perfectly understandable from the GOP’s perspective, especially with the wounds from the Bush economic disaster still fresh.
However, there’s a drawback to hiding the ex-president’s light under a bushel, as well. Bush made a valiant effort at immigration reform in the latter part of his second term.
As a former governor of a state along the U.S. southern border, the president appreciated the complexities of illegal immigration — of how these immigrants endure many hardships to find back-breaking work in the United States, how key sectors of the economy are dependent on the labor of undocumented workers and how a massive program of deportation would bankrupt the nation. Bush’s efforts were largely sunk by his fellow Republicans, who preferred simplifying the complex through bigotry and fear-mongering. What Bush called a “path to citizenship” was re-branded “amnesty” by conservatives.
Bush was back at it Tuesday while speaking at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. His advice was less a specific agenda and more a call for an improved tone.
“America can become a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time,” Bush said. “As our nation debates the proper course of action on immigration reform, I hope we do so with a benevolent spirit and keep in mind the contributions of immigrants.”
A benevolent spirit would be an excellent starting point. Our hope is that the supporters of Alabama’s mean-spirited and ineffective anti-immigration law are listening to the former president.