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George W. Bush hopes new book will ‘help set a tone that is more respectful about the immigrant’

Former President George W. Bush is still disappointed that immigration reform wasn’t accomplished during his presidency, telling CBS News on Sunday that today, he wants to “help set a tone that is more respectful about the immigrant,” which may lead to change.

After leaving the White House, Bush picked up a paint brush, and several of his oil paintings are featured in his new book, Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants. He told CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell that he hopes his portraits create “a better understanding about the role of immigrants in our society. Mine is just a small voice in what I hope is a chorus of people saying, ‘Let’s see if we can’t solve this problem.'”

Bush said he campaigned on immigration reform, and “made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do,” but even though there was bipartisan support at the time, nothing came to fruition. Since then, presidents have signed executive orders on immigration, “but all that means is that Congress isn’t doing its job,” Bush said.

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The problem with the debate over immigration, Bush continued, is it “can create a lot of fear: ‘They’re comin’ after you.’ But it’s a nation that is willing to accept the refugee or the harmed or the frightened, that to me is a great nation. And we are a great nation.” He supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who pass a background check and pay back taxes, and should President Biden ever propose this, Bush said he would lobby the GOP to get behind him.