Former president George W. Bush’s upcoming book highlighting immigrants is ironic
The same president who created the Immigration and Customs Enforcement is now praising the contributions immigrants have made in the U.S.
Former president George W. Bush announced on Thursday in a Facebook post that he would have a new book out on recognizing the contributions immigrants have made in the U.S. by sharing the lives of people he has gotten to know over the years.
“Today, I’m pleased to announce a new book and exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center honoring new Americans who have contributed to the cultural richness, economic vitality, entrepreneurial spirit, and renewed patriotism of our country,” Bush wrote on Facebook.
The book is titled Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants and in it people can find the portraits of 43 immigrants that were painted by the 43rd president.
A public exhibition that will include portraits and closer look at the immigration debate in America will run from March 2, 2021, the day of its publication, to January 22, 2022 at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.
In releasing the book, Bush only adds to his mixed record on the issue of immigration.
In 2002, he pushed for and signed the Homeland Security Act which created the Department of Homeland Security.
The lack of coordination and intelligence sharing between federal agencies that was highlighted after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 led to the act receiving bipartisan support as it promised to put an end to the government miscommunication.
The missions of Homeland Security were realized by 40 different federal agencies and Bush wanted to centralize their efforts.
Within the newest federal department came the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has the job of protecting the country from cross-border crime and illegal immigration.
They helped the Bush administration deport over 2 million people, separating thousands of families in the process.
Until being surpassed by President Barack Obama, the 43rd president had deported more immigrants than any other American leader in history.
On the other side, towards the tail end of his presidency, Bush advocated for the Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2007, a bipartisan bill that promised to give certain undocumented immigrants a road to legal status and strengthen border security.
The bill was not perfect and many Democrats opposed it because it forced undocumented immigrants to pay a substantial fine, limited family reunification visas to nuclear family members and promoted assimilation by requiring them to learn English and “American values.”
Nine days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Bush addressed Congress and spoke about Muslims and their faith.
“I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah, blaspheme the name of Allah,” he said.
It did not take long for those words to sour as the Bush administration also approved enhanced interrogation techniques that were done to suspected terrorists who were abducted from around the world.
In June 2003, the president barred the use of racial profiling by federal agents in their investigations but his guidelines left exemptions for the tactic to be used in terrorists investigations and national security matters.
This resulted in Middle Easterners being singled out by law enforcement across the country and this was mostly seen in airports where typically men of the ethnicity were given heightened scrutiny.
A 2014 Senate report found that the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) used methods such as sleep deprivation, rectal rehydration and waterboarding. Vice president Dick Cheyney confirmed that Bush approved the program and was briefed on these matters frequently.
In 2017, Bush wrote a book in a similar style to the one he announced on Thursday and it is called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors.
He painted the portraits of those who served the U.S. in the Iraq War, which lasted from 2003 to 2011, and the War in Afghanistan which started in 2001 and is ongoing.
The 43rd president told the stories of veterans that fought in wars that he launched.
The Iraq War in particular had nearly 4,500 American soldiers and around 100,000 Iraqi civilians who lost their lives in vain since the Bush administration lied to the American public to get support for it.
The reason was given for the war was a fear that Sadaam Hussein had a weapons of mass destruction program and the U.S. sent its Secretary of State, Colin Powel, to the United Nations to argue the case for war with fabricated evidence.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld laid out the actual reason the U.S. got involved in Iraq in memos to then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
“If Saddam’s regime were ousted, we would have a much-improved position in the region and elsewhere,” and, “A major success in Iraq would enhance U.S. credibility and influence throughout the region,” Rumsfeld said.
The neoconservative wanted regime change to signal that the American hegemony was going nowhere and had no remorse for the developing countries he would be destabilizing.
No matter what former president Bush does he can never erase the effects that his time in the White House had on innocent civilians both domestically and abroad.
His wars, lies and human rights abuses will forever taint his presidency and there will never be enough paint to cover his canvass of atrocities.