Bush succeeded. And during his tenure, millions from Mexico exploited his magnanimity to violate our laws, trample upon our sovereignty, walk into our country, and remain here.
In 2007, backed by John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Teddy Kennedy and Barack Obama, Bush backed amnesty for the 12 million people who had entered America illegally.
The nation thundered no. And Congress sustained the nation.
The latest mass border crossing by scores of thousands of tots, teenagers and toughs from Central America has killed amnesty in 2014, and probably for the duration of the Obama presidency.
Indeed, with the massive media coverage of the crisis on the border, immigration, legal and illegal, and what it portends for our future, could become the decisive issue of 2014 and 2016.
But it needs to be put in a larger context. For this issue is about more than whether the Chamber of Commerce gets amnesty for its members who have been exploiting cheap illegal labor.
The real issue: Will America remain one nation, or are we are on the road to Balkanization and the breakup of America into ethnic enclaves? For, as Ronald Reagan said, a nation that cannot control its borders isn't really a nation anymore.
In Federalist No. 2, John Jay wrote,
"Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people -- a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs ... "
He called Americans a "band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties." The republic of the founders for whom Jay spoke did not give a fig for diversity. They cherished our unity, commonality, and sameness of ancestry, culture, faith and traditions.
We were not a nation of immigrants in 1789.
They came later. From 1845-1849, the Irish fleeing the famine. From 1890-1920, the Germans. Then the Italians, Poles, Jews and other Eastern Europeans. Then, immigration was suspended in 1924.
From 1925 to 1965, the children and grandchildren of those immigrants were assimilated, Americanized. In strong public schools, they were taught our language, literature and history, and celebrated our holidays and heroes. We endured together through the Depression and sacrificed together in World War II and the Cold War.