George W Bush takes a swipe at Trump as he welcomes new US citizens: 'Dial down the rhetoric'
Former US president used the naturalization ceremony at the George W Bush Presidential Center in Dallas on Monday to praise the 'blessing' of immigration in the United States
In a rare public appearance on Monday, former US President George W Bush greeted new US citizens and described immigration as "a blessing and a strength" as part of a subtle attack against President Donald Trump who has campaigned against illegal immigration ever since he announced his presidential candidacy in 2016.
The naturalization ceremony took place on Monday at the Bush Institute in Dallas where more than four dozen immigrants from 22 countries were sworn in as citizens, NZ Herald reports.
"America's elected representatives have a duty to regulate who comes in and when," the former President said. "In meeting this responsibility, it helps to remember that America's immigrant history made us who we are. Amid all the complications of policy, may we never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength."
Bush lamented that his own administration's efforts at comprehensive immigration legislation "came up short" by the end of his term. However, he urged policymakers in Washington to work towards "modernizing" the country's immigration laws and "dial down the rhetoric."
"The United States of America is the most successful of nations," Bush said. "Historically, where immigration is concerned, we're also the most welcoming of nations. And these two facts are related."
"I hope those responsible in Washington can dial down the rhetoric, put politics aside and modernize our immigration laws soon," he added.
The remarks came just days after Trump vetoed a congressional resolution to disapprove his declaration of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border. During the veto event, Trump appeared in the Oval Office surrounded by sheriffs, border patrol agents, and families of Americans killed by illegal immigrants. According to the commander-in-chief, the border wall will "help stop crime, human trafficking, and drugs entering our country," especially after the imminent threat posed by caravans of migrants headed toward the US.
On the other hand, Bush painted a completely contrasting picture and adopted a welcoming tone in his speech. Applauding the new citizens, he said that those who seek to start a new life in the country often "bring a special love of freedom, because they have seen how life works without it."
"You paid America the high tribute of aspiring to live here, leaving behind familiar ways and places and accepting a process that everyone knows is not easy," Bush said. "Our country in return honored your efforts and soon will be honored to call you a citizen."
Democrat Congressman Colin Allred shared a clip from Bush's speech on Twitter praising his words. "Common sense immigration reform shouldn't be a partisan issue," Allred wrote in a tweet. "Thank you to #TX32 resident President George W. Bush for speaking out on the value immigrants provide to our nation. Congress must work together on comprehensive reform and fix this broken system."