George Bush Sr. on Immigration

President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)


1980: Illegal aliens attend public schools like citizens do

Future president George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan debated--a young Texan asks whether illegal aliens should be able to attend Texas public schools for free, as citizens do. Bush starts it off, calling for a more comprehensive solution to the problem of illegal immigration, something that still eluded Congress 33 years later:

BUSH: I'd like to see something done about the illegal alien problem that would be so sensitive, and so understanding about labor needs, and human needs, that that problem wouldn't come up. But today, if those people are here, I would reluctantly say they would get whatever it is, what society is giving their neighbors. But the problem has to be solved. We're creating a whole society of really honorable, decent, family- loving people that are in violation of the law, and secondly we're exacerbating relations with Mexico.

REAGAN: The time has come that the US & our neighbor to the south should have a better understanding and a better relationship than we've ever had.

Source: Esquire on primary before Reagan-Carter Presidential Debate , Jan 7, 2016

1989: Vetoed letting Tiananmen students overstay visas

Gingrich's first skirmish was over foreign policy--Bush's veto of a bill that would have allowed Chinese students to stay in the US after their visas expired. The brutal suppression of protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 had been seen across America. Chinese students' lives were put at risk as soon as they returned home. Supported by Gingrich, Republicans joined Democrats in attempting to override the veto, and Bush administration official
Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p.124 , Jun 1, 1995

Supports “English First” but not via federal law

On “English First,” I cannot change my position. I strongly favor every child learning to speak English, but I don’t think we need a federal law. I worry about prejudice against Hispanics, particularly, and I am afraid the “English First” debate could stir up prejudice and curtail linguistic education programs that I think are absolutely essential to teach all Americans to speak English properly. I know public opinion is on the other side, but this is how I feel.
Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.369-370 , Nov 6, 1987

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Other past presidents on Immigration: George Bush Sr. on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022