Former President George W. Bush has released his new book, "Out of Many, One." The book is a collection of 43 portraits of immigrants, all of whom came to America for freedom and a better life. Bush said he wants to "elevate the dialogue" when it comes to immigration reform and with each portrait, share the stories of struggle and perseverance.
"Thear Suzuki. She's a Dallas girl and went to SMU. She grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand," said Bush as he walked us through the exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. "I've met every one of them."
The former president said each and every one of his paintings tells a story.
"I am worried that by leaving Afghanistan, the Roya's of Afghanistan could suffer," Bush said when speaking of Roya Mahboob who said she lived in fear of the Taliban.
Bush's book also talks about the struggle and perseverance in America.
"He is an awesome guy, Chobani came from Turkey and started his own business," said Bush.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Bush realizes that his book is being released at the same time immigration is top of mind for many people in the country.
"My message is, let's look at each immigrant here in the country and honor them as a child of God. And let's recognize the powerful influence that the newly arrived can have on our soul," Bush said.
We asked the former president, is the timing good or is the timing a little tricky to enter?
"I think the timing is pretty good because people are paying attention to the issue. Nothing is going to get fixed quickly down on the border, as a matter of fact, the whole system is overwhelmed," he said.
Gallery: President George W. Bush Releases New Book Focused on Immigration
There are 11 million immigrants in the United States and Bush said they should be given a "gradual path to citizenship" that's earned through background checks and service requirements all while maintaining a secure and efficient border.
"It's going to require the president to reach out to Republicans, and it's going to require Republicans being willing to be reached out to. But it's really a legislative solution that needs to happen," he said.
Bush said the images of children arriving in the U.S. alone affects him.
"I can't imagine the human condition being so bad that a mother is willing to allow their teenage kid, or young kid, to be put in the hands of a coyote and shipped across the border," he said.
And that's why he's using his spotlight to introduce people like Tina Tran, a woman who fled Vietnam by boat with her family and was hijacked at sea by pirates. Today Tran is an American citizen and an executive at Microsoft.
"When you come here, there's going to be some struggle and you're going to have to work really hard, you're gonna have to ask for help and be comfortable asking for help," Tran said.
Tran, now the muse of an American president on the wall in his presidential library.
"Where's Tina? Come here Tina, I want a picture by your painting. I made you look like a movie star," Bush said as he greeted Tran during our interview.
"E Pluribus Unum … Out of Many, One, and it's not a slogan, it's a recognition about the power of America," Bush said.
- You can learn more about the exhibit at The Bush Center by clicking here.
- You can purchase your own copy of "Out of Many, One" by clicking here.