As I reflect on the recent passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush the 41st President, (aka Daddy Bush) I realize how far we have come and have stagnated as well in this country.
Watching the three hour coverage in Washington at the Cathedral services about his successes, and the famous quote, “Read My Lips,” which many thought doomed his chances for a 2nd term, I am still digesting it all.
As a supporter of President “Daddy Bush” twice and having served 12 short Reserve tours at the Pentagon including a 6 month tour during Desert Storm, I stood less than 10 feet from him and Barbara in a military hanger as he got off a helicopter.
He was on his way to attend a celebration for the “Mission Accomplished” Ceremony in a theatre with famous people. Being assigned to Public Affairs, I was able to sit in the front row and watch the program as well.
At President Bush’s Eulogy, former Presidents attending included Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and wives.
Another reflection that I fixated on was the issue of immigration, and how we attempted to handle it from different presidents. Today we have calls for border walls, incarceration of migrant children held in cages, and military called up to use force and gas those who come close to the wall including children seeking asylum from terror.
In 2014, then President Barack Obama made good on his promise to issue an executive order on immigration during a televised press conference from the White House. Many on both sides are still reacting to his words.
Some Americans believed his willingness to “over step his authority” as President, violated his presidential oath to uphold the tenets of the constitution. Others believed he was well within his right to do so as previous Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Walker Bush. Both Reagan and Bush issued executive orders limiting immigrant deportation as well, setting the precedent.
President Obama pointed out at the time he was attempting to correct policies that he believed unjustly punished parents of children who were born in this country, although the parents were not naturalized citizens. The terms “illegal” or “undocumented” come to mind depending on each individuals take on the subject.
Here is an excerpt from his speech back in November, 2014.
“My fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.
“For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities – people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.
“But today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it.” (Sound familiar?)
He pointed out that some play by the rules and others don’t. He talked about exploitation by some businesses, and how many immigrants are forced to remain in the shadows at risk of their families being torn apart. He said, “It’s been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.”
He reminded the country in his address that when he took office he was committed to fixing the problem. He noted that America has more agents and technology deployed to secure the southern border than at any time in our history.
He also pointed out that during his term, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half and the number of unaccompanied children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. He emphasized the number of people trying to cross the border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.
He also addressed his attempt to work with Congress to come to a common sense compromise.
He laid out his plan of adding additional resources for law enforcement to stem the tide of illegal crossings. He also explained his effort to make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed. Finally he offered steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.
“Over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mother who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day,” he added.
He also said, “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.” He closed by saying, Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.”