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Jeb Bush on Immigration

Republican FL Governor; V.P. prospect


OpEd: Rational sympathy rather than economic logic

If Bush does run, it's likely that another passage in that Fox News interview will supply his detractors with some of the ammunition that they will use against him: "It's not a felony. It's an act of love."

Bush's position makes a lot of sense but unfortunately--and he knew when he uttered those words--only one phrase will be remembered: "act of love." Suffice it to say that this son and younger brother of presidents will be endlessly mocked by many, if not most, conservatives for expressing what will be depicted as a bleeding heart liberal's view of illegal immigrants. That Bush would campaign as an advocate for immigration reform--a position that is considered anathema by many in the Republican Party's grass roots--was never in doubt. But what makes this a political gaffe of a sort is that Bush chose to make the argument for a rational approach to the fact that 12 million illegals are in the country by playing the sympathy card rather than an appeal to cold, hard economic logic.

Source: Commentary Magazine, "What's Love Got To Do With It" , Apr 7, 2014

Immigration is 'not a felony' but 'an act of love'

Jeb Bush said the debate over immigration reform needs to move past derisive rhetoric describing illegal immigrants. The former Florida governor said that people who come to the US illegally are often looking for opportunities to provide for their families that are not available in their home countries.

"Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love, it's an act of commitment to your family," Bush said. "I honestly think that is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families," he said.

"I think we need to kind of get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place." Bush acknowledged that his comments would be recorded. "So be it," he said before discussing immigration reform, an area where he splits from many in the Republican Party in lobbying for a comprehensive overhaul.

Source: Dana Davidsen on CNN Politicker, "Act of love" , Apr 7, 2014

Immigrants are committed to family, even if illegally here

On immigration, there's an elite consensus behind "comprehensive immigration reform" that would provide legal status and a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. Bush is a particularly impassioned spokesman for this consensus: "Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans, over the last 20 years," Jeb said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in June 2013. "Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity."

This Sunday, he went further in describing the motives of some undocumented immigrants in deeply positive terms: "Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony," Jeb said. "It's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family."

The problem: The only people absent from this consensus are the leaders of his own party. House Republicans have for a decade bottled up "amnesty."

Source: Ben Smith on BuzzFeed.com, "Terrible Candidate" , Apr 7, 2014

Illegal immigration is act of love: different kind of crime

There are means by which we can control our border better than we have. And there should be penalties for breaking the law. But the way I look at this--and I'm going to say this, and it'll be on tape and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn't come legally, they come to our country because their families--the dad who loved their children--was worried that their children didn't have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.
Source: Fox News interview at George H. W. Bush Library , Apr 6, 2014

Advocate for residency for illegal immigrants

Bush has taken policy stances against his party's grass roots on the hot button issues of immigration and education. Bush is an advocate for pathways to citizenship and residency for illegal immigrants, positions that House Republican leaders didn't even want to debate in this election year for fear they would cause too big a rift in the ranks.
Source: John Dickerson on Slate.com, "Hard on the GOP" , Mar 31, 2014

FactCheck: Yes, immigrants are more fertile

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's comment "Immigrants are more fertile," sparked debate on twitter. Fertility can mean the ability to have children, but it can also refer to the birth rate of a population--and that's the way we evaluated Bush's statement.

Bush, speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference, made a pitch for immigration reform, saying America needs more new workers to help pay for retirees--"to rebuild the demographic pyramid" as he put it. "Immigrants are more fertile," Bush said. "And they love families and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity."

Bush's words were on track, and we rate the statement Mostly True.

Source: PolitiFact fact-checking on 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 18, 2013

My plan is legalization, not self-deportation

Q: What's the difference between that and what Mitt Romney was proposing last year, self-deportation, which you say in your book, made it almost impossible for him to get any Hispanic votes?

BUSH: The difference is that we are suggesting that there be a path to legalization, that people that are here come out from the shadows. That is a far cry from telling people they have to go back to their home country. And the other thing I would say is that our proposal also says for children of illegal immigrants, those who can't come here illegally that were children, that they should have a path to citizenship on a far faster basis. The so-called "DREAM Act" kids.

Q: But in terms of the path to citizenship, that is self-deportation, correct?

BUSH: No, it is not self-deportation; people can stay here. 60% of the people that were granted a process of legalization and citizenship in 1987 did not apply for citizenship. They stayed as legal residents of the country.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2013 interview of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 10, 2013

People come illegally because there's no legal path to come

Q; You don't want to encourage further entry by undocumented workers, is that correct?

BUSH: That's exactly right. The incentives that exist today are for people to come illegally because there's no path for them to come legally. We don't have a guest worker program. We have lines that are so long, that in effect, there are no lines. If you--I mean, we have a lottery system where people actually put their names in. That's the reaction to our immigration system being so clogged up.

Q: This isn't really about the pathway to citizenship, is it? Isn't this about what everybody has called the empathy gap? That people look at the Republican Party and they think mean old white guys, mainly.

BUSH: I think that immigration is a gateway issue for people that have some part of the immigrant experience. It's a gateway issue if you can get past that, whether it's the empathy gap or actually having a positive agenda, then you have to make a case on a broader set of issues.

Source: CNN SOTU 2013 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 10, 2013

Path to citizenship or path to legalization: both could work

Q: Politico wrote about your book: "Bush takes a U-turn on pathway to citizenship." Did you change your view on this?

BUSH: My view has been that, in order to get comprehensive reform, we could take either path; either a path to citizenship or a path to legalization. The important point is that illegal immigrants should not get better benefits at a lower cost than people that have been waiting patiently. So assume we pass the law this year--and I hope that's the case--five years from now we should

Source: Meet the Press 2013 series on 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 10, 2013

Reform must make it easier to come legally than illegally

Q: For years you supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Now, according to your book, you no longer support that, but support a path to legal residency. Why have you changed?

BUSH: I haven't changed. The book was written to try to create a blueprint for conservatives that were reluctant to embrace comprehensive reform, to give them, perhaps, a set of views that they could embrace. I support a path to legalization or citizenship so long as the path for people that have been waiting patiently is easier and costs less, the legal entrance to our country, than illegal entrance. The worst thing that we could do is to pass a set of laws and have the exact same problem we had in the late 1980s, where there was not the enforcement and it was easier to come legally than illegally.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2013 series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 10, 2013

6-part proposal for comprehensive immigration reform

    A Proposal for Immigration Reform
  1. Fundamental Reform: Comprehensive interrelated approach because system as a whole is broken, and to achieve bipartisan consensus.
  2. A Demand-Driven Immigration System: Replace overriding preference for family reunification with work-based immigration.
  3. An Increased Role for the States: Share federal authority over immigration policy [such as] social services and providing benefits.
  4. Dealing With Current Illegal Immigrants: We propose a path to permanent legal resident status for those who plead guilty to having entered our country illegally as adults and who have committed no additional crimes of significance.
  5. Border Security: Broader immigration reform is an essential component of border security; we can't do one without the other.
  6. Toward a More Vibrant Future: Getting immigration policy right will allow us to reclaim the prosperity that in recent years has eluded our grasp.
Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush,p. 12-62 , Mar 5, 2013

There is no realistic pathway to citizenship for most people

Some people are allowed to become legal residents automatically, even if they do not work and will consume enormous social services. (Indeed, some immigrants are forbidden from working!) Others who would contribute a great deal have to wait decades for a visa, if they can get one at all.

Of the many serious and legitimate criticisms that can be leveled against our current immigration system, two in particular stand out in terms of hugely detrimental impact:

There is a single major explanation for both problems: our immigration policy is driven by an overriding preference for family reunification, which in turn is very broadly defined.
Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p. 17-19 , Mar 5, 2013

Limit family reunification: no siblings nor parents

Our immigration policy is driven by an overriding preference for family reunification. Unlike every other country, in America family members of existing immigrants account for a large majority of new lawful entrants into our country, crowding out most others.

When parents & siblings are given immigration preference, their entry in turn creates an entitlement to other extended family members to gain preference as well--a phenomenon called "chain immigration."

In terms of cost/benefit analysis, extended family members typically do not produce the economic benefits that work-based immigrants do, and they impose far greater costs.

We propose limiting guaranteed admissions to spouses and minor children of US citizens. Reuniting married couples and their children is the essence of family reunification. By contrast, siblings and parents cause substantial chain immigration because their children, siblings, and parents then receive guaranteed admission preference as well.

Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p. 18-21 , Mar 5, 2013

Treat illegals with compassion but also rule of law

We need to treat those who have settled in our country illegally with compassion and sensitivity, yet without sacrificing the rule of law that is vital to our national fabric. The wholesale amnesty granted in the 1980s promoted the first of those values while abandoning the second, with the all-too-predictable result that millions more illegal immigrants came into the country.

This time, we need to vindicate both core values On one hand, we should try to put ourselves in the shoes of people who have entered the country illegally: they often faced impossible economic circumstances in their native countries, with a bleak future for themselves and their families, yet had no realistic process of immigrating lawfully to this country. On the other hand, allowing people to immigrate illegally without consequence while millions of others wait to enter through lawful means in manifestly unfair.

Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p. 40-41 , Mar 5, 2013

Path to legal resident status: pay fines & no criminals

It is in no one's interest for illegal immigrants and their families to live in the shadows. We need everyone to participate in the mainstream economy, to pay taxes, to participate openly in their communities, to be willing to report crimes-- that is to say, to be accountable, responsible members of society. That cannot occur when people fear they will be arrested if their immigration status is known.

We propose a path to permanent legal resident status for those who entered our country illegally as adults and who have committed no additional crimes of significance. The 1st step in obtaining that status would be to plead guilty to having committed the crime of illegal entry, and to receive an appropriate punishment consisting of fines and/or community service. Anyone who does not come forward under this process will be subject to automatic deportation, unless they choose to return voluntarily to their native countries.

Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p. 42-43 , Mar 5, 2013

Secure border as component of reform, not as prerequisite

Many on the right say that we must secure the border before we do anything to reform our immigration system. The fact is that we can't do one without the other. Although border security is an essential component of broader immigration reform, broader immigration reform also is an essential component of border security.

Demanding border security as a prerequisite to broader immigration reform is a good slogan but elusive on the details and measurements. What do advocates of such an approach mean by "operational control" of the border? That not a single immigrant will cross illegally? That no illegal drugs will cross the border? That no terrorists will enter our country? What exactly is the magic moment we must wait for before we can fix the broken immigration system?

Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p. 48 , Mar 5, 2013

To become citizen, pass exam in English and civic history

Assimilation into American culture may begin long before people even enter our country. But assimilation into the American identity--the values on which our nation is based and the constitutional mechanisms designed to perpetuate them--ultimately is far more important yet a much more difficult task.

To become citizens, immigrants must demonstrate fluency in English and pass an examination on basic American civics and history. There are 100 possible questions, from which 10 are asked of prospective citizens. Answering 6 out of 10 questions constitutes a passing grade.

We believe that should not be enough to earn citizenship. Instead, aspiring citizens should be able to demonstrate a fundamental understanding of our nation's values and mechanisms of democracy. Thus we would expand the civic knowledge necessary for citizenship to include our nation's founding documents, the crucial role of a market economy in promoting freedom and prosperity, and the means and importance of civic preparation.

Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p. 58-59 , Mar 5, 2013

Illegals can't "wait in line"; there is no line to wait in

There is one reason above all others that we have millions of illegal immigrants: because there is no lawful avenue for them to enter the country. Unless they receive one of the small number of seasonal work visas or high-skilled worker visas, or unless they are a postsecondary student or a relative of lawful residents, there is simply no mechanism by which they can lawfully emigrate to the US. Saying "they should wait in line like everyone else" is hollow because there is no line in which to wait. The days in which people could lawfully emigrate to the US just because they wanted to pursue the American Dream are as much a memory as is Ellis Island. If we do not provide a lawful mechanism for immigration for such people, we can expect a continued flow of illegal immigration during good economic times, no matter how many fences we build or how many obstacles we place in their path.

Emphatically, the best solution to illegal immigration is a viable system of legal immigration.

Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p.114-115 , Mar 5, 2013

Objections to more multiracial America are misplaced

Even if we did nothing on immigration policy, immigration would continue to impact America. In 2011, for the first time, fewer than half of all children born were non-Hispanic whites. US residents who were born in foreign countries number about 39 million, or roughly 12.5% of the nation's people, not much different than in times past.

What the demographics mean is that Americans will grow increasingly multiracial. Reform opponents raise the same tired arguments their predecessors raised for centuries: that the newcomers will not assimilate; they won't learn English; they are disproportionately criminal, welfare-dependent, and subversive of American values. History repeatedly has proven those objections misplaced. Where would we be if we had allowed those arguments to prevail in the 19th century or at any time since then? Certainly, we would not be the most powerful, prosperous, and generous nation on earth. Nor will we continue to be if we allow those arguments to prevail today.

Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p.139-141 , Mar 5, 2013

GOP wooed Hispanics in 2004; but alienated them by 2012

Bush chastised fellow Republicans for alienating Latinos with anti-immigration rhetoric. "In the 15 states that are likely to decide who control the White House and the Senate in 2012, Hispanic voters will represent the margin of victory," Bush wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. "For the Republican Party, the stakes could not be greater. Just 8 years after the party's successful effort to woo Hispanic voters in 2004, this community--the fastest-growing group in the US--has drifted away."
Source: The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Rogi-Franzia, p.222 , Jun 19, 2012

Education reform more critical than immigration reform

The export of knowledge-driven industry is a far greater threat to our prosperity than illegal immigration, which seems to dominate the news and political discourse. Without a pipeline of homegrown talent to fuel growth, the lure of cheaper labor, lower operating costs, and less government regulation outside the U.S. will be difficult to overcome.
Source: Mike Thomas Blog, Orlando Sentinel , Jan 11, 2011

Pray for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, not AZ law

Jeb Bush and his gang are interested in the type of reform his brother pushed that includes tighter borders and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the nation. Here's what we received:

Jeb Bush, Conservative Leaders Call on Congress, President to Act on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Hundreds of conservative grassroots advocates will join a nationwide strategy call with key business and Evangelical leaders to share convictions around the need for immigration reform this year and discuss plans for moving the issue forward.

Conservative leaders will provide an update on the fallout from last week's passage of Arizona's divisive immigration law and pray for a solution to the moral, economic & political crisis caused by our broken immigration system. Speakers will also share strategies for breaking the stalemate in Congress to move immigration reform this year.

Source: Paul Bedard in US News and World Report, "Jeb Leads Fight" , Apr 28, 2010

1980s: Voter registration for 88,000 naturalized Hispanics

In December 1983, Jeb formally became Dade County's most influential Republican player, the county party chairmanship. Now, a county chair in politics is somewhat like a college education--it is what you make of it. Jeb made a lot of it, putting in place a recruitment program to boost the party's registered voter roll in Dade County.

Between Dec. 1983 & Dec. 1986, the number of Republicans climbed from 150,651 to 238,520, a 58% increase, while the number of registered Democrats actually declined from 425,559 to 422, 205. Certainly, this was to an extent just taking advantage of existing conditions. Miami Cubans had been angry at the Democratic Party ever since President Kennedy had [abandoned] the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Still, Jeb deserves credit for following through with the grunt work part of the operation. His goal was to register all newly naturalized Hispanics, not just Cubans, as Republicans, and he was extraordinarily successful in this, helped by his by-then fluent Spanish.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p. 78 , Feb 15, 2007

Speaks Spanish; husband and father of Hispanics

Jeb, in his run for governor in 1994 told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida at an Orlando campaign appearance: "I am the husband of a Hispanic, I am the father of 3 beautiful children who have Hispanic blood running through their veins, my business partner and 75% of the former team members of my business are Hispanic."

In Miami, Jeb didn't need Columba's ethnicity to connect with the Hispanic majority. His ability to speak the language and, perhaps even more important, his long and deep support of Miami's virulently anticommunist foreign policy essentially made Jeb an honorary Cuban.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.191 , Feb 15, 2007

Share costs of legal immigration between states & federal.

Bush adopted the National Governors Association policy:


Source: NGA policy HR-2: Immigration and Refugee Policy 01-NGA3 on Feb 15, 2001

Federal government should deal with criminal repatriation.

Bush adopted the National Governors Association policy:



Finally, the Governors are concerned about the large number of deported felons that are returning to the United States. A significant number of the criminal alien felons housed in state prisons and local jails are previously convicted felons who reentered the United States after they were deported. The Governors urge the federal government to provide sufficient funds for proven positive identification systems, like the Automated Fingerprinting Identification System (AFIS), to allow for the expanded use of these systems in the rest of the nation.
Source: NGA policy HR-2: Immigration and Refugee Policy 01-NGA4 on Feb 15, 2001

Import farm workers from Mexico.

Bush signed the Southern Governors' Association resolution:

Source: Resolution of Southern Governor's Assn. on 2002 Farm Bill 01-SGA6 on Sep 9, 2001

Other candidates on Immigration: Jeb Bush on other issues:
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