LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Pushing the conversation about immigration reform forward. In a new book former President George W. Bush shares a collection of stories of 43 immigrants who came to America for a better life. This comes as President Joe Biden recently extended the previous administration’s cap on refugees into the U.S.
Florida immigration attorney Steve Maggi of SMA Law opened up to Fox 4 about his personal journey to become a citizen. He says the former president’s new book puts a face to the nameless numbers we often hear about. He says it could change the minds of people who are against immigration reform.
Maggi’s mom was born in New York, but he immigrated from Argentina.
“It took me nine years to become a citizen, because of this very obscure law, that said that if your parent - U.S. citizen parent wasn’t living in the U.S. as an adult for one year, you couldn’t get a passport,” he said.
His mom studied art in Argentina when she turned 18. He finally became a citizen in 1988. He says President Bush’s book “Out of Many, One” resonates with him, particularly the paintings accompanying each story. Because of his mom’s background, art has a special place in his heart.
“Immigrants are human beings just like everyone else. So, I think that it will have a very strong impact because of the visuals,” he said.
President Bush says he wants to remind people of the countless ways America has been strengthened by those who have come to the U.S. in search of a better life. Maggi says now the road to citizenship is even longer with policies limiting how many immigrants are allowed into the U.S.
Friday President Biden decided to maintain President Donald Trump’s order allowing only 15,000 refugees into the U.S. this year, rather than 60,000 like he promised in February.
“We need to overhaul this immigration system, but we need to do it in a humane way. So, it’s not a numbers game. It’s about what is the best thing to do as a country that will help us move forward, heal the wounds and have structure in place, so it’s fair,” he said.
He hopes President Bush’s book can sway people who are on the fence when it comes to reform.
“Maybe this sways them because it does tug at their heart strings. And it makes them feel like, you know, these are human beings that are worthy of dignity and civility,” said Maggi.
Over the weekend, President Biden said he would increase the number of refugees allowed into the country for the fiscal year by May 15th. “Out of Many, One” is scheduled to be released Tuesday.