Former President George W. Bush praised immigrants today as critical to the U.S. labor market and made an appeal for the country to be more welcoming of them. “They come with new skills and new ideas,” Bush said. “America’s a nation of immigrants; immigrants have helped build the country that we’ve become. Not only do immigrants help build the economy, they invigorate our souls.”

He gave the remarks today at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas for the opening of a conference titled “Immigration and 4% Growth: How Immigrants grow the U.S. Economy.” The George W. Bush Institute is hosting panel discussions highlighting the positive impact of immigration on U.S. economic growth.

Bush emphasized “Immigrants fill a critical gap in our labor market, and they work hard for a chance at a better life.” He went on to say that “America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time.” Bush said it was neither humane nor realistic to expect that all 12 million undocumented immigrants could be deported. “Some in this country argue that the solution is to deport every illegal immigrant, and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty. I disagree,” Bush said when he was President. “It is neither wise, nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border.”

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