José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: La Red Hispana

I could bet that there are not many liberal or progressive-oriented Hispanics who have thought that one day they would miss the figure and political thought of a conservative like George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States.

After all, real estate mogul Donald Trump managed to capture the vote of a significant number of Latino men, both in the 2016 presidential election and in his failed bid for reelection in 2020.

But the rebirth during the Biden era of the national debate on immigration reform to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants has made it inevitable to contrast the two faces of the Republican Party: the humanitarian and inclusive face of Bush, versus the hostile and discriminatory face of Trump.

Away from the political scene for the past 12 years, George Walker Bush decided to return to the public square to lobby his own Republican party for comprehensive immigration reform, offering citizenship to undocumented immigrants who have a clean criminal record and have paid their back taxes.

It is a perfect synchronization with President Biden’s own immigration policy, reflected in the Citizenship Bill 2021, which is promoted in the Senate by the Democratic Senator of New Jersey Bob Menéndez and in the House of Representatives by the legislator from California Linda Sánchez.

“I do not pretend to give recipes, I do not want to tell Congress how to do this or that, what I do want to tell Congress is to put aside the harsh rhetoric on immigration and that neither side seeks to score political points. I hope to help set a more respectful tone towards immigrants that can lead to a reform of the system,” Bush told CBS this weekend from his Prairie Chapel Ranch in Texas.

Now dedicated to the hobby of painting, Bush acknowledged that his failure to get immigration reform passed during his eight years in the federal government has been one of his biggest disappointments and regretted that politicians use the reality of the immigration phenomenon to scare people. voters.

The best window of opportunity to pass comprehensive immigration reform is likely to be this year. However, the reality is that the majority of voters in the midst of the pandemic assign a low priority to the immigration debate, despite the fact that the emergency of migrant children at the border has captured the attention of the nation.

George W. Bush does not know if his party will pay attention to his immigration vision. Republicans believe they have a good chance to win back the Lower House and Senate next year. We’ll see. Joe Biden has accumulated extensive political capital from his response to the pandemic. Nearly seven in 10 Americans appreciate his work as the nation’s virtual chief physician.

But if Republicans turn their backs on sensible immigration reform once again, they may have lost one of their last chances to remain a political institution with real potential to govern a multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural country at the national level.

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