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July 10, 2013

Former President Bush Honors America’s History as Nation of Immigrants

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomed statements made by former President George W. Bush following a naturalization ceremony at his presidential library. His statements join a growing chorus from across the political spectrum calling for immigration reform that upholds American values and the rule of law.

“President Bush’s speech today honored America’s history as a nation of immigrants,” said Human Rights First’s Sara Ibrahim. “Part of that legacy includes our commitment to protecting refugees. Since its earliest days, our nation has served as a refuge for those with well-founded fears of persecution, and there is a long history of bipartisan support for the U.S. asylum and refugee systems, ” Ibrahim explained.

In his remarks former President Bush observed, “Our generation must ensure that America remains a beacon of liberty and the most hopeful society the world has ever known.  We must always be proud to welcome people as fellow Americans.  Our new immigrants are just what they’ve always been — people willing to risk everything for the dream of freedom.” He expressed hope for keeping that tradition in mind during the immigration reform debate. “The laws governing the immigration system aren’t working. The system is broken.  We’re now in an important debate reforming those laws and that’s good. I don’t intend to get involved in the politics or the specifics of policy, but I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate. And I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind and we understand the contributions immigrants make to our country,” he stated.

Human Rights First notes that immigration legislation recently passed in the Senate includes several important improvements to the asylum system. The organization urges those senators who will shepherd the bill through conference to protect these provisions and see them through to become law. The provisions include:

  • Elimination of the unfair and wasteful asylum filing deadline bar that has led the United States to deny  asylum to refugees facing well-founded fears of persecution;
  • Better protections to keep refugee families intact;
  • Measures to address the plight of stateless persons in the U.S.

“President Bush’s remarks today reflect the American value of welcoming immigrants,” concluded Ibrahim.

For more information, see Human Rights First’s blueprint, How to Repair the U.S. Asylum and Refugee Resettlement Systems and report on the asylum filing deadline, The Asylum Filing Deadline: Denying Protection to the Persecuted and Undermining Governmental Efficiency. To speak with Ibrahim, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.