Taking the Measure: The Presidency of George W. Bush

By Donald R. Kelley; Todd G. Shields | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
The Bush Presidency and
Immigration Reform

Rafael A. Jimeno

In the lead-up to the 2000 presidential election I was in my first year as a high school US government teacher. The Bush campaign continually stressed his status as a “compassionate conservative,” so I attempted to impress upon my students that there would be virtually no differences between a Bush presidency and a Gore presidency. This campaign was quite clearly reflective of the centrist nature of US politics, the epitome, perhaps, of a system designed to appeal to moderates and ignore the fringes. I was wrong.

This is not to say that George W. Bush is responsible for the incivility and partisanship that have plagued our political system for the better part of the last decade. Nor is it to say that we are in uncharted waters, or in the worst state of affairs our polity has ever faced; there are equally acrimonious chapters throughout US history. Assessments of the legacy of Bush’s presidency, whatever that is determined to be, are best left to those who can detail every policy position and enactment that may have contributed to the charged climate.1

The focus here is on President Bush’s repeated attempts at comprehensive immigration reform, which actually positively distinguish him from those counterparts who have merely paid lip service to the topic. His earnestness may have been a function of his previous life as a “border governor” or perhaps part of his attempt to reach out to the Latino community and garner their support.

President Bush had sought to mobilize the Latino vote by advocating for immigration reform in 2004. It is thus common wisdom to assert that the support Bush received from Latinos was a result of this advocacy. For whatever

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