But compared to current Republicans, immigration seems downright liberal. This is not a merit for him, it is a big mark against the Republican Party today.
Bush expressed support for DACA, the deferred action for child arrivals, which gives undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children a path to citizenship. He also proposed increasing the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter the country.
The bill was not passed, in large part because Republicans were divided on it, a harbinger of things to come.
The Republican Party today, as Bush himself has pointed out, is as nationalist, xenophobic, and nativist as any political movement has been in decades. Donald Trump has become the leader of the party, even out of office (the Republican Party did not even have a platform in the last election, simply promising allegiance to the whims of former President Mercury). And Trump is not only intensely xenophobic, but he was terribly willing to treat immigrants as if they were anything but human.
Of course, Bush’s view was far from progressive and stalled far below what almost any immigrant rights advocate would say is necessary. It is a conservative proposal and Bush is not radical, not even liberal. But his proposal does not dehumanize, insult, or inflame the resentment of immigrants, and it is sad that we are at a time when dehumanization, insult, and inflammation of anti-immigrant sentiment are the status quo of the Republican Party.
Here is the temptation to draw a clean line between the pre-Trump GOP and the post-Trump GOP, as if Trump were an unpredictable force that fundamentally changed the nature of the party. But this is not true.
But Trump said what was not said before and adopted resentment not only as a path to power, but as a veritable battle cry. He drew what had previously been intentionally hidden and denied at the center of his movement.
That Bush is speaking now is certainly commendable, but it also conveniently underscores his role in laying the groundwork on which Trump relied. Certainly, Bush seems horrified by the end result, as we should all be. But while he points to the fact that he has become his party, he should pause and reflect on his own contributions.
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