While the current president closes borders and shuts off avenues to asylum, George W. Bush is making a statement about immigration with his paintbrush.
The former president’s Dallas-based library announced Thursday that he’s releasing a book next spring illustrated with portraits he’s painted of immigrants.
The title is “Out of Many, One” — a translation of the national motto E Pluribus Unum. It will include 43 stories about 43 immigrants with portraits of the nation’s 43rd president. Subjects range from golf great Annika Sorenstam to retired Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki to Gilbert Tuhabonye, a runner who moved to the U.S. after surviving genocide in Burundi.
In a statement Thursday from the Bush Presidential Center, the former president is quoted saying, “While I recognize that immigration can be an emotional issue, I reject the premise that it is a partisan issue. It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us.”
The book comes out next March — timed to a Bush library exhibit of the former president’s portraits.
Laura Collins specializes in immigration at the Bush Center.
“We really believe immigrants are good for the economy, we think they’re really good for our culture and they enrich us in so many ways and the conversation about them is not always positive,” Collins tells KERA. “So how do we make sure and bring a spotlight to the contributions we know they are making in our communities every day?”
Collins points out that the book is really an extension of the former president’s longstanding views on immigration and will include solutions.
“We want to make sure that every time we’re having a conversation about this, we’re advancing something that’s gong to fix a problem rather than just highlighting that there is a problem or creating more divisiveness,” Collins said.
The press materials don’t mention President Trump, with whom Bush has a distant relationship at best. And as the presidential campaign heats up, that relationship has become even more distant. The New York Times has reported that the former president won’t support his fellow Republican’s reelection bid this fall.