George W Bush says he’s ‘disturbed’ by immigration rhetoric under Trump

The former Republican president says anti-immigration rhetoric 'undermines the goodness that is America'

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 13 July 2018 19:06 BST
George W. Bush 'disturbed' by current US immigration debate

George W Bush has spoken out against “disturbing” rhetoric being used in the national immigration debate triggered by Donald Trump.

The former Republican president said the ongoing debate “undermines the goodness that is America”, and fails to “recognise the valuable contributions that immigrants make to our society”.

Mr Bush was speaking on Thursday in a conversation with former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Presidential Centre in Little Rock, Arkansas, when he decidedly rejected the position of many conservative officials in Mr Trump’s administration.

Under Mr Trump, the US enacted a “zero tolerance” policy which caused the systemic separation of under 3,000 migrant children from their families at the US-Mexico border.

The president has also repeatedly used derogatory terms when referring to immigrants, describing Mexican migrants as “rapists” and “criminals” and claiming the country is becoming “infested” by crime and gangs.

Mr Bush said comments like that erode the public’s support and commitment to immigration, since they’re being made to believe that “the system is broken”.

“It obscures the fact — the rhetoric does — that the system is broken and needs to be fixed,” he continued.

The former president hasn’t spoken out often against Mr Trump or his controversial rhetoric — certainly, he’s been less vocal than former President Barack Obama. Mr Bush’s wife spoke out against the separation of families at the border, however, along with every other living first lady, including Melania Trump.

“I live in a border state,” she wrote in an article for the Washington Post. ’I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

Mr Trump signed an executive order walking back his policy of separating families, as his administration works to reunite the migrant children with their parents.

Meanwhile, he’s continued to employ controversial rhetoric against immigrants not just in the US, but abroad, telling The Sun during his trip to the UK that immigration is changing the culture throughout the region.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in