Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

George W. Bush is right

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Sat July 13, 2013
Dean Obeidallah says he when it comes to immigration reform, former President George W. Bush is right.
Dean Obeidallah says he when it comes to immigration reform, former President George W. Bush is right.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: George W. Bush is 100% correct on immigration reform
  • Obeidallah: House Republicans should take a page from the former president
  • He says the GOP will likely take a hit in upcoming elections if they block reform
  • Obeidallah: A majority of Americans support reform, so what is the GOP thinking?

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- I can't believe I'm saying this, but George W. Bush is 100% correct -- at least when it comes to immigration reform.

And just so it's clear: I was never a Bush supporter. In fact, I made a living during his presidency telling jokes that mocked him, from his policies to his greatest weakness -- speaking English.

But Bush's statement this week on immigration reform was right on target. The ex-president told attendees at a naturalization ceremony on Wednesday: "We're a nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways.

"I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind, and we understand the positive contributions immigrants make to our country. ... But we have a problem, the laws governing the immigration system aren't working. The system is broken."

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

A majority of Americans think our immigration system is in dire need of repair.

Indeed, a recent Fox news poll found that 76% of Americans believe it's important to pass major immigration reform, with 74% favoring a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Yes, I'm touting not only George W. Bush but also a Fox News poll as well. (Clearly, the apocalypse can't be too far.)

So what has Congress done to address the issue?

Well, in June the U.S. Senate passed legislation with bipartisan support to overhaul the immigration system. The proposed law would greatly increase border security by requiring the completion of a 700-mile fence along our Mexican boundary, adding 20,000 more border agents and spending more than $3 billion in border monitoring technology.

In addition, it would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants after they fulfill numerous conditions, including waiting 13 years and paying back taxes.

Political Gut Check - Immigration
Bush: The immigration system is broken

With polls showing so much support for immigration reform, you would assume that the bill will soon become the law of the land. But there's one huge problem: The Republicans control the House of Representatives.

This week, House Republican leaders made it clear that the Senate bill would not be brought to a vote because it does not have sufficient support of Republican members. House Republicans especially oppose the pathway to citizenship provision.

So what's going to happen to immigration reform? Well, House Republicans did say there's a chance of enacting laws that focuses on border security.

The GOP truly has an existential question to answer: Will it remain a national political party or just a regional one? That's the stake with immigration reform.

Just look at the 2012 election. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney received only 27% of the Latino vote. That is a lower percentage than what Republican presidential candidates received in the past three elections.

Latinos make up 16% of our population, and their numbers will only grow. Opposition to immigration reform will likely take a toll on the GOP in upcoming elections.

But this is not an issue that concerns only Latino Americans. It also hits close to home for many, if not all, other immigrant communities in America.

Why would House Republicans refuse to enact a law that is good policy and good politics?

There are many reasons. One is that many House Republicans represent grotesquely gerrymandered conservative districts that give them little incentive to compromise.

Two, they are being bullied by loudmouths on the right such as Rush Limbaugh, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and others.

Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin even got into the action urging people via her Facebook post to: "Join the mama grizzlies who are rearing up tirelessly to swat away false claims that amnesty is a good thing." (Whenever I'm on the fence about an issue, I will see where Palin stands and then take the opposite view because I know that's the correct one.)

Perhaps these words of Bush can inspire House Republicans to do the right thing: "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" OK, that's not relevant but it makes me laugh every time.

Actually, what Bush said this week sums it up: "We can uphold our traditions of assimilating immigrants and honoring our heritage of a nation built on the rule of law."

Let's hope House Republicans have the courage to stand up to those on the far right of their party and not focus solely on building walls at the border but also on helping America remain the great melting pot that it is.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
LZ Granderson says Ronald Reagan went horseback riding and took a vacation after the Korean Air Crash of 1983. So why does the GOP keep airbrushing history to bash Obama?
updated 9:38 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Errol Louis says the tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD has its roots in the "broken windows" police strategy from the crime-ridden '80s.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is right to immediately send 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the border children crisis.
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
updated 4:15 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
updated 7:57 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
updated 10:17 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
updated 9:50 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
updated 11:07 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
updated 1:55 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
updated 3:53 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
updated 3:33 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
updated 6:11 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
updated 8:14 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
updated 12:01 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
updated 2:04 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
updated 9:24 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT