- In a rare interview, former President George W. Bush said he was disappointed he never passed immigration reform.
- Bush also said that Congress wasn’t “doing its job” to pass reform.
- Former House Speaker John Boehner made similar comments about immigration Sunday.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Former President George W. Bush said Sunday that failing to pass substantial immigration reform during his eight years in office was one of the biggest disappointments of his presidency.
Bush, president from 2001 to 2009, spoke in a rare interview with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell that aired Sunday.
“It’s been 15 years,” O’Donnell said, pointing toward the time that has passed between the present and Bush’s 2006 Oval Office address, where he called for a “middle ground” approach to immigration reform.
“Still, nothing’s been done,” she added.
“No, a lot of executive orders but all that means is Congress isn’t doing its job,” Bush said.
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O’Donnell asked the former president whether failing to pass immigration reform was one of the “biggest disappointments” of his presidency.
“Yes, it is,” Bush responded. “I campaigned on immigration reform. I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do.”
“The problem with the immigration debate is that it — one can create a lot of fear,” he added. “‘They’re coming after you.’ It’s a nation that is willing to accept the refugee or the harmed or the frightened, to me is a great nation. And we are a great nation.”
Bush said Sunday he supported a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the US, so long as they pay back taxes and can pass a background check. He told O’Donnell he would support such a plan if it were proposed by President Joe Biden, even if other members of the Republican Party opposed it.
Bush also Sunday explained why he rarely appears in media — a direct contrast to former President Donald Trump who left office this year and frequently releases political statements through his office after he was banned from most social media platforms earlier this year.
“I feel a responsibility to uphold the dignity of the office,” Bush said. “I did then, and I do now. And I think it’s undignified to want to see my name in print all the time. I think it basically sends a signal that I miss being famous and, you know, I want people to see me. Listen to me! And, you know, I don’t. I really don’t.”
Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner, who served under former President Barack Obama from 2011 until his retirement in 2015, made similar comments about immigration during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, calling his failure to pass such reform his “second biggest regret.”
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