Former President George W Bush said he is “disturbed” by the immigration debate taking place in the United States because it “undermines the goodness of America.”
“I think it doesn’t recognize the valuable contributions that immigrants make to our society. And it obscures the fact – the rhetoric does – that the system is broken and needs to be fixed,” Bush said on Thursday.
Bush made the comment when responding to a question at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
He was joined by former President Bill Clinton, and the event was part of the graduation ceremony for this year’s class of Presidential Leadership Scholars.
The former Republican president’s remarks come as tensions continue to rise in the US over immigration. The government is working to reunite undocumented families who were separated at the border as a result of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
CNN previously reported on new guidance issued Wednesday on asylum seekers at the border that could result in thousands of individuals being turned away before they can plead their cases in court.
The new guidance, given to the officers who interview asylum seekers at the US borders and evaluate refugee applications, shows that although the administration has reversed its “zero-tolerance” policy, it is continuing hardline immigration tactics.
CNN’s Tal Kopan contributed to this report.