Former President George W. Bush said on Thursday that the U.S. needs to “welcome” immigrants and thank them for doing the “jobs that Americans won’t do.”
“Americans don’t want to pick cotton at 105 degrees, but there are people who want to put food on their family’s tables and are willing to do that,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “We ought to say thank you and welcome them.”
Speaking at a summit in Abu Dhabi, Bush criticized President Trump’s approach to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects undocumented immigrations who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.
“America’s their home,” Bush said of DACA recipients.
Trump, who has consistently called for hard-line immigration measures, announced last September that he would end the DACA program, giving Congress a six-month deadline to pass legislation to protect the program’s recipients, often known as “Dreamers.”
As the deadline nears, lawmakers are still working on a deal that would satisfy Trump’s demands for funding for a border wall and other increased security measures. The Trump administration unveiled framework last month that would include a path to citizenship for nearly 2 million undocumented immigrations, which is more than double the approximately 700,000 Dreamers in the country.
Bush said on Thursday that the U.S. immigration system is “broken” and needed to be fixed, acknowledging that he “tried, but unsuccessfully.” He also spoke highly of the United States’ relationship with Mexico, according to Reuters.
“It is important for our economy and also important for our soul that the immigration system functions well,” he said. “I view it as a relationship vital for our economy and for our stability. We’ve got to enforce our borders and we’ve got to enforce our laws.”