Who would have thought a major figure of the Republican Party would be publically calling for immigration reform? Former President George W. Bush delivered an opening speech at a symposium on immigration and economic growth, and his stance on immigration reform was actually a positive one. The fact that he decided to come out and speak favorably on the issue is surprising considering how it’s become a taboo subject within the GOP. As we saw in the latest Presidential run, the Republican Party is a hardliner when it comes to immigration, with very few if any GOP members deviating from that harsh stance for which they stand. However, as we also saw in the latest Presidential race, immigrants are an important voting bloc, with 23.7 million casting their votes in the latest election.
Although those eligible to vote made up only 10% of the nation’s population, according to the “Pew Hispanic Center projections, Hispanics will account for 40% of the growth in eligible electorate in the U.S. between now and 2030, at which time 40 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote.” This means that from now on, it will be nearly impossible for any presidential candidate to hope to win the seat in our nation’s highest office without being sympathetic towards immigrants. If unable to capture a significant portion of the immigrant vote, they are unlikely to win, and that is a humbling fact that has hit hard with the Republican front.
Former President Bush is among the first ones to acknowledge this fact, choosing to come forth with an amicable message and tone. “They come with new skills and new ideas. America’s a nation of immigrants, immigrants have helped build the country that we’ve become. Not only do immigrants help build the economy, they invigorate our souls,” he said. This is a far cry from the “attrition through enforcement” or “self-deportation” talk we had become accustomed to hearing come from Republicans. While he did not mention any solutions for fixing their immigration status, he urged those currently tangled in the immigration debate to “do so with a benevolent spirit and keep in mind the contributions” immigrants make to our country. “Immigrants fill a critical gap in our labor market, and they work hard for a chance at a better life…America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time.”
He is cognizant of the fact that it is unrealistic to deport all twelve million of our nation’s undocumented population. “Some in this country argue that the solution is to deport every illegal immigrant, and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty. I disagree. It is neither wise, nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border” he said. George Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush, has publically condemned the Republican stance on immigration, being a supporter of comprehensive reform himself because he is married to a Mexican woman and sympathizes with the immigrant cause. Similarly, Bush is now espousing a more understanding attitude than most people in his Party, allegedly because of his Texan roots. “Growing up here in Texas, like many in this room, I had the honor and privilege of meeting the newly arrived.
Those who I’ve met love their families. They see education as a bright future for their children. Some willingly defend the flag.” It is our greatest hope that certain public leaders can serve as Republican ambassadors to mediate this issue and gather support for it within their Party base. We encourage George Bush and his prominent brother to continue to espouse this cause and spread awareness to the most conservative of Americans.