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George W. Bush says immigration policy should be 'welcoming'

Commentary: In what appears to be several subtle rebuffs to President Donald Trump's views, the former president underlines the need for freedom of worship and a free press.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


George W. Bush wants America to be welcoming.

Scott Iskowitz, Getty Images for Invictus Games

The former Republican president doesn't seem to be entirely on the current Republican president's side.

In an interview with NBC on Monday, George W. Bush was asked about Donald Trump's executive order, currently on pause, which temporarily bans immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Bush looked like he'd been expecting the question. "I am for an immigration policy that's welcoming and upholds the law," he said.

Some might see this as a rather presidential way of rebuffing the notion, seemingly espoused by the president, that the Muslim world offers a generalized threat.

The issue of immigration has vexed the tech industry greatly. After Trump put the ban in place, tech CEOs blanched. Apple CEO Tim Cook insisted that if we don't oppose the travel ban "we become a part of it." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said "we need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat."

One fear for tech CEOs is that their reliance on hiring the best from anywhere in the world might be threatened. Many of the biggest tech companies have signed a letter protesting the ban.

Bush's wording, though, suggests that he's for a more measured approach, one that doesn't enact blanket bans.

President Bush was also asked about whether the media really is the enemy of the American people, as was suggested by Trump in a recent tweet. Bush was unequivocal.

"I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy," he said. He then offered a wise analysis of why this is.

"We need an independent media to hold people like me to account," he said. "Power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive. And it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere."

It's an argument that applies not only to presidents, but to tech CEOs too. In recent years, they have enjoyed a speedy ascent to power that neither the law nor public policy could keep up with.


Apple's Steve Jobs was long known as someone who used the press to his own ends and chose to stay silent about material facts that were important.

And when a celebrated tech CEO decided the press displeased him, he banned certain publications. Who can forget Google's then CEO banning a publication for simply Googling his name and discovering simple details about his life? That publication? Oh, CNET.

The interview ranged across many of the most important topics of the day. The former president said we need answers to questions surrounding the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia, which has been the subject of one or two leaks that have so annoyed Trump that he needed to tweet about them.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Returning to the notion of any sort of religious test for immigration, Bush said that freedom to worship -- or not worship at all -- was one of America's great strengths. "People who murder the innocent are not religious people," he added.

Ultimately, the former president's view, one that will please tech CEOs, is that America must continue to engage with the world. "I think it's very hard to fight the war on terrorism if we're in retreat," he said.

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