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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush flip-flop? Calls for immigration reform without path to citizenship



Jeb Bush appeared on Today to talk about his new immigration book and said he does not support a path to citizenship, which is a major block in legislation being crafted in Washington by Sen. Marco Rubio and others.

“There has to be some difference between people who come here legally and illegally. It’s just a matter of common sense and a matter of the rule of law,” Bush said. “If we’re not going to apply the law fairly and consistently, then we’re going to have another wave of illegal immigrants coming into the country.”

Bush said many immigrants do not want to be citizens. “They want to come here, they want to work hard, they want to provide for their families. Some will want to come home, not necessarily all of them want to stay as citizens,” he said.

BuzzFeed's Ben Smith quickly pointed out on Twitter that Bush supported a pathway last year. "You have to deal with this issue. You can’t ignore it, and so either a path to citizenship, which I would support--and that does put me probably out of the mainstream of most conservatives--or ... a path... to residency of some kind,” he told Charlie Rose.

Reform advocates say Bush, who did not rule out a run for president in 2016, has flip-flopped for political reasons.

"Gov. Bush hasn't changed his position," Jaryn Emhof wrote in an email to the Buzz. "The book provides a set of recommendations based on what is needed and what can generate bipartisan support.  It is a comprehensive proposal, including a path to legal residency for those here illegally. The book does not prohibit individuals here illegally from ever earning citizenship. I would point out not everyone who is undocumented wants to become a citizen. We focus a lot of time on citizenship and yet in 1986 when citizenship was being handed out half of those eligible did not avail themselves of that option. Not all immigrants want citizenship. They want to come out of the shadows, want to live here legally, and they want respect.

People talk a lot about getting in line.  Practically speaking, there is no line today, the process is fundamentally broken for those who seek to come to our country.  The book provides a series of recommendations by which immigrants  - whether they are coming to work temporarily, to go to school, to live and work as permanent residents or seeking citizenship – can do so through an immigration process that would be much more open than before. An actual system. Not the broken, backlogged mess we currently have."

“If he stays with this new, ‘let them be workers but not citizens’ stance, it will be a political blunder of huge proportions,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.  “At a time when voters are looking for steady, principled leaders and Republicans are supporting citizenship in greater numbers, this should be Jeb Bush’s moment. Yet his disturbing flip-flop on immigration citizenship and tack to the right ahead of a potential presidential primary suggests that he’s misread the moment.  By endorsing the failed concept of a permanent underclass for a mostly Latino group of workers, Bush will put a ceiling on potential Latino voter support.  Let’s hope he clarifies his position in the coming hours to show that he will be a proponent of reform with citizenship in 2013 and not an obstacle.”

[Last modified: Monday, March 4, 2013 10:29pm]


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