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 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT