George W. Bush calls the country ‘divided’ under Trump and pushes for immigration reform

Former President George W. Bush, who after the White House has mostly remained on the political sidelines, has reappeared criticizing his Republican successor for campaigning for a sharply different immigration policy than former President Donald Trump.

“The problem with the immigration debate is that it, one, can create a lot of fear. ‘They’re coming after you,'” he said. Bush said during a recent interview with CBS News on his 1,600-acre farm in Crawford. Texas.

Bush, whose book of paintings ‘Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants’ is being published by Crown, hopes his vote could make the debate less frightening after four years of Trump’s policies. The proceeds from his book go to charities that help immigrants relocate.

“The country was very divided during that period. And you know that he was not re-elected as a result,” he said. Bush on Mr. Trump said.

Although he mr. Trump accused him of dividing the country, he would Mr. Bush does not go so far as to blame the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, which he called a “terrible moment in our history.”

“It made me sick. I could not believe it. Neither could you. Most Americans sit there and go, ‘What the hell is going on?’ “To try to guess the motivations of rioters – history is going to judge the blame when time goes on,” Mr Bush said.

More than two decades ago, Mr. Bush presented himself as a compassionate conservative who wanted to implement a comprehensive immigration reform. His failure to do so, he said, is one of his greatest regrets and part of the reason he rejoins the debate.

It was Ken Mehlman, his former campaign manager, who urged him to speak out about immigration reform about four years ago. Bush said.

“I said, ‘I do not want to put my vote in the immigration debate. I’m a quiet man. I made my deal. I’m not going to criticize my successors. “He said, ‘Why don’t you paint the portraits of immigrants?’ And I said, ‘Wow, that’s a good idea’ – and started. And I am now involved in the immigration discussion, ‘said Mr. Bush said.

Former President George W. Bush talks to CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell in his art studio on his Texas farm.

Adam Verdugo / CBS News

The last president to sign an immigration reform bill was President Ronald Reagan in 1986, which essentially granted amnesty to 2.7 million undocumented immigrants. Mr. Bush has said he does not believe the provision of immediate amnesty to migrants “will work these days”, but he supports a path to citizenship.

‘However, I believe people who have been here, who [followed] the law and paying their taxes should be given a chance … a way to citizenship, ‘he said. If they pay their taxes and prove that they are good citizens. And stay out of jail. But do not precede those who have been here and live by the rules. ‘

Mr Bush has said he will support the Republican Party if it is President Joe Biden’s proposal.

“Whether my own party listens to me or not is another question,” he said.

Bush also said he disagreed with the argument that immigrants take work away from American citizens.

“I think it helps to increase the number of jobs available. And there are a lot of jobs that are not being filled right now. You come here to Dallas in August and not many people are willing to put tiles on roofs,” he said. . said.

The former president employs eight immigrants working on his 90-acre tree farm. He had work visas in the US.

“They are incredibly good workers. But more importantly, they are here to support their families. And they are sending money back home,” he said. Bush said, adding that he believes the current system for work visas should be expanded.

“The problem with the visa program is that they have to apply for readmission every year. As a result, as a small business owner, we do not know whether the workforce trained to work on the tree farm will return. And that needs to be fixed, ‘he said.

On the front page of mr. Bush’s portrait book is Carlos Rovelo, who came to the USA due to a civil war in El Salvador. If he had stayed there, Rovelo, now a father of four, said he did not think he would live. His father was tortured, his family was forced to pay a ransom for his father’s release and his grandmother witnessed the assassination of an archbishop near their home.

Former President George W. Bush paints a portrait of Carlos Rovelo, who grew up in El Salvador and became a U.S. citizen in 1987 after escaping the Civil War.

Adam Verdugo / CBS News

He became a U.S. citizen in 1987 and is now a professor at a community college and teaches federal and Texas government, Mexican-American studies, and art history.

“Only in America. And that’s what this country is about. Never say never,” Rovelo said he was on the front page.

Bush, who met Rovelo through his art instructor, hopes the tone of the immigration debate will change by sharing the story of Rovelo and others.

“That’s the thing that makes me angry about this debate. I really do not want to get involved in politics. But you know, the tone of the debate was just as disrespectful to people as Carlos,” he said. “Dream big dreams and work hard.”