“Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush seems to have changed his mind about a path to citizenship, according to advance copies of his book due out on Tuesday.
As recently as last June, Bush, the brother of former president George W. Bush, supported offering a method for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country to gain American citizenship. …
The Democrats called that line of thinking cruel and inhumane, and they won the support of 71 percent of Latinos in last year’s election.
But Bush’s new book says it is unwise to offer citizenship to undocumented immigrants, since he says that might encourage more illegal immigration.
“The former Florida governor (not to mention the brother and son of U.S. presidents) re-emerged on the national scene this week with the publication of “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution.” But Bush seemed to get tripped up when asked if he believed illegal immigrants should be offered “a path to citizenship”. …
In June 2012 Bush said explicitly he would support offering a way for illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. But in his new book, Bush argued against it, writing that “those who violated the laws can remain, but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship.” … [On MSNBC's Morning Joe], Bush asserted that he would support a “law where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally,” but that he wasn’t entirely convinced it was possible.
“—Reduce family-based visas.
—Double the number of work-based visas.
—Replace diversity visa lottery with a “regular” immigration process with no special qualifications. …
—More visas for tech/science experts, students, and entrepreneurs.
—More visas and a path to citizenship for guest workers.
—States should have far more flexibility to determine which immigrants receive government services.
—Give state and local governments more authority to enforce immigration law.
No citizenship for illegal immigrants—except for DREAM Act kids
—Legal status but not citizenship for illegal immigrants.
—Path to citizenship for DREAMers.
—Native-born students would have to pass the same civics exam to graduate.
—Microchips and biometric data to track immigrants and visitors.
—More enforcement against employers who employ illegal immigrants.
—More border security and military to the border.
“Still, there’s a lot more to the book than just a flip-flop on who should become a citizen, and he takes on some of the right’s main critiques of comprehensive immigration reform.
Bush seeks to revamp the country’s overall legal immigration system, shifting visas from the current system, which is largely family-based, toward employment-based migration.
In three important cases, Bush takes issue with fundamental components of his party’s opposition to prior immigration reform proposals. First, he disagrees with those who believe overall US immigration should decrease from its current level.
Second, he rejects the idea, frequently voiced by conservatives, that they’ll only consider reforming the immigration system once America’s borders are secure.
Third, he rebuts the idea that those wishing to come to the United States without family or employment connections can somehow “get in line” to become US citizens.
“In Immigration Wars, co-authored with immigration lawyer Clint Bolick, Bush agues that denying a path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrations is “absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences.” Those who enter the country illegally, Bush contends, should “start the process to earn permanent legal residency” after pleading guilty to breaking the law and paying “applicable fines or perform community service.” But they should not have access to “the cherished fruits of citizenship”:
It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences— in this case, that those who violated the laws can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship. To do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefits of American citizenship. It must be a basic prerequisite for citizenship to respect the rule of law. But those who entered illegally, despite compelling reasons to do so in many instances, did so knowing that they were violating the law of the land. A grant of citizenship is an undeserving reward for conduct that we cannot afford to encourage. [...]
Our proposal imposes two penalties for illegally entry: fines and/or community service, and ineligibility for citizenship. Yet it allows for illegal immigrants who have proven themselves to be otherwise law-abiding members of the community to remain in our country.
In promoting the book today, Bush justifies his change of heart by explaining that “we wrote this book last year, not this year” — after a bipartisan consensus has formed in favor a path to earned citizenship — suggesting that his position on the issue is guided by the political winds within his own party and that he would have included a path had he known that a group of Republicans would endorse it in their reform principles. Watch his appearance: