Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took a hard right turn while the U.S. Congress negotiates immigration reform.
He is wavering on a key piece of his former immigration reform plans — a path to citizenship. This was one of the few aspects of immigration reform that has kept immigrant advocates and Republicans at the negotiating table.
Bush was once considered the most moderate and visionary Republican on immigration. Now, his immigration reform ideas place him to the right of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who leads the immigration reform effort in the U.S. Senate.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said on Monday that his immigration plan will not include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, backing off his previous support for a policy that pro-reform activists consider a centerpiece of comprehensive reform.
In an interview on the Today show, NBC’s Matt Lauer host said Bush’s upcoming book, “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” appeared to “fall short” of offering eventual citizenship to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in America today. Bush replied that Lauer was correct.
“Our proposal is a proposal that looks forward,” Bush said, “and if we want to create an immigration policy that’s going to work we can’t continue to make illegal immigration an easier path than legal immigration. I think it’s important that there is a natural friction between our immigrant heritage and the rule of law. This is the right place, I think, to be in that sense.”
Bush added that “if we’re not going to apply the law fairly and consistently then we’re going to have another wave of illegal immigrants coming in the country.”
For a long time, Bush took the position that the United States needed to create a fair system to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States. On many occasions, Bush prescribed a path to citizenship for some.
In January, Bush co-wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal that said Republicans were being short-sighted to write off amnesty as they clamored for border protection.
He wrote: “In some conservative circles, the word “comprehensive” in the context of immigration reform is an epithet—a code word for amnesty. People who oppose such reform declare that securing the United States border must come before moving toward broader reform. Such an approach is shortsighted and self-defeating. Border security is inextricably intertwined with other aspects of immigration policy. The best way to prevent illegal immigration is to make sure that we have a fair and workable system of legal immigration. The current immigration system is neither.”
Bush later told NBC that he wasn’t completely ruling out a path to citizenship.
Now, TPM reports that advocates for immigration reform are stunned by Bush’s flip-flop.
–Ashley Lopez, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting