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Jeb Bush on Immigration

Republican FL Governor; V.P. prospect


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 governors on Immigration: Jeb Bush on other issues:
FL Gubernatorial:
Rick Scott
FL Senatorial:
Bill Nelson
Marco Rubio

Newly seated 2013:
IN: Mike Pence (R)
NC: Pat McCrory (R)
NH: Maggie Hassan (D)
MT: Steve Bullock (D)
WA: Jay Inslee (D)

Re-elected 2012:
DE: Jack Markell (D)
MO: Jay Nixon (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
UT: Gary Herbert (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WV: Earl Ray Tomblin (D)

Up for election 2013:
NJ-R: Chris Christie
NJ-D: Barbara Buono
VA: Bob McDonnell(Retiring)
VA-R: Ken Cuccinelli
VA-D: Terry McAuliffe
Up for re-election 2014:
AK: Sean Parnell
AL: Robert Bentley
AR: Mike Beebe
AZ: Jan Brewer
CA: Jerry Brown
CO: John Hickenlooper
CT: Dan Malloy
FL: Rick Scott
GA: Nathan Deal
HI: Neil Abercrombie
IA: Terry Branstad
ID: Butch Otter
IL: Pat Quinn
KS: Sam Brownback
MA: Deval Patrick
MD: Martin O'Malley
ME: Paul LePage
MI: Rick Snyder
MN: Mark Dayton
NH: Maggie Hassan
NM: Susana Martinez
NV: Brian Sandoval
NY: Andrew Cuomo
OH: John Kasich
OK: Mary Fallin
OR: John Kitzhaber
PA: Tom Corbett
RI: Linc Chafee
SC: Nikki Haley
SD: Dennis Daugaard
TN: Bill Haslam
TX: Rick Perry
VT: Peter Shumlin
WI: Scott Walker
WY: Matt Mead
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Page last updated: Jul 01, 2013