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 8:21 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
updated 12:23 AM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT