George W. Bush pushes ‘gradual’ pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants

Afdal Agency
Amnon Jakony (Jay Arts Holdings)

Former President George W. Bush is advocating for a “gradual” path to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States illegally.

What are the details?

Ahead of his forthcoming book — “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants” — Bush published an op-ed in the Washington Post that explained the principles of reform he believes are necessary to restore “people’s confidence in an immigration system that serves both our values and our interests.”

That reform process, Bush said, should include a solution “for the millions of undocumented men and women currently living in the United States.”

Outright amnesty “would be fundamentally unfair to those who came legally or are still waiting their turn to become citizens,” according to Bush. However, the former president said the U.S. should employ a “gradual process” that results in legal status and citizenship.

Bush explained:

[U]ndocumented immigrants should be brought out of the shadows through a gradual process in which legal residency and citizenship must be earned, as for anyone else applying for the privilege. Requirements should include proof of work history, payment of a fine and back taxes, English proficiency and knowledge of U.S. history and civics, and a clean background check We should never forget that the desire to live in the United States — a worldwide and as powerful an aspiration as ever — is an affirmation of our country and what we stand for. Over the years, our instincts have always tended toward fairness and generosity. The reward has been generations of grateful, hard-working, self-reliant, patriotic Americans who came here by choice.

Meanwhile, Bush said that immigration reform must address the so-called “dreamers,” or immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors.

“Americans who favor a path to citizenship for those brought here as children, known as ‘dreamers,’ are not advocating open borders,” Bush wrote. “They just recognize that young men and women who grew up in the United States, and who never knew any other place as home, are fundamentally American. And they ought not be punished for choices made by their parents.”

Regarding asylum-seekers, Bush said, “We also need a modernized asylum system that provides humanitarian support and appropriate legal channels for refugees to pursue their cases in a timely manner. The rules for asylum should be reformed by Congress to guard against unmerited entry and reserve that vital status for its intended recipients.”

Bush also reiterated the necessity of secure borders.

“We need a secure and efficient border, and we should apply all the necessary resources — manpower, physical barriers, advanced technology, streamlined and efficient ports of entry, and a robust legal immigration system — to assure it,” he wrote.

“I have long said that we can be both a lawful and a welcoming nation at the same time,” Bush added.

Anything else?

Bush told CBS News in an interview that will air on Sunday that not passing comprehensive immigration reform is one of his biggest presidential regrets.