Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush went into hostile territory and did not back down from his pro-amnesty views on Friday.
In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Bush again supported giving illegal immigrants a “path to legal status” and refused to answer whether U.S. citizens and legal immigrants should be favored over illegal immigrants in the job market.
“There is no plan to deport 11 million people,” Bush, the likely 2016 contender, said. “We should give them a path to legal status.”
Bush said illegal immigrants who are given a path to legal status would work, not receive government benefits, learn English, and make contributions to society.
Hannity mentioned that 50 million Americans are in poverty and on food stamps while the country has the lowest labor participation rate since the 1970s. And the Fox News host noted that even if all of the illegal immigrants in the country go to the “back of the line,” they “still get to compete here for the jobs.”
“I want you to connect it to immigration,” Hannity said to Bush. “Shouldn’t Americans have the opportunity for those jobs first?”
Bush’s answer was telling.
Bush did not emphatically declare that U.S.-born Americans and legal immigrants should get preferences over illegal immigrants, which is what an overwhelming majority of Americans, including a majority of Hispanics, believe, according to a recent Paragon Insights poll.
Instead, he chided those who think that Americans should receive a higher priority for jobs for believing that the economic “pie is static” and that “someone’s benefit is someone else’s detriment.”
Bush urged conservatives to not think about the issue as a zero-sum game where the government is “divvying it up for us to get the crumbs.” But illegal immigrants do not, in most case, compete with U.S. citizens and legal immigrants for government jobs. They compete with them for private sector jobs. And big-business interests in the private sector donate heavily to pro-amnesty candidates like Bush because they want an endless supply of cheap labor that would lower the wages of American workers. In fact, Pro-amnesty, pro-abortion, and pro-gay marriage donors and activists are fueling Jeb Bush’s fundraising.
As Breitbart News has noted, “all of the net job growth since 2000 went to legal and illegal immigrants, and the Congressional Budget Office last year determined that the Senate’s massive amnesty bill would lower the wages of American workers.”
Perhaps because working Americans in blue-collar and white-collar fields “realize that they are getting squeezed and the ties between unchecked immigration and wages,” as Hannity mentioned, “a majority of Americans were dissatisfied with current immigration levels–and only seven percent of Americans wanted an increase in immigration,” according to Gallup’s most recent poll. As Temple University Law Professor Jan Ting always emphasizes, America already has the most generous legal immigration policy of any nation on the planet.
Bush, though, kept speaking about growing the economic pie at a 4% rate that “looks more like the 80s in America” and implied there would be enough jobs for U.S. citizens, legal immigrants, and illegal immigrants if that level of growth occurred.
Asked about the illegal immigrant juveniles who flooded across the border last summer from Central America, Bush said he “thought they should have been sent home at the border” and that would have been the more humanitarian thing to do to prevent more illegal immigrants from making the harrowing and often deadly journey. He said his brother, former President George W. Bush, did that with Haitian immigrants and “people didn’t lose their lives trying to come into this country.”
Bush supported giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants while he was governor, and he did not back down from that issue, noting that a GOP-controlled Florida legislature and a Republican governor signed Florida’s version of the DREAM Act into law last year.
When asked about whether Congress should pass a bill that defunds President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty, Bush responded that “Congress ought to pass a bill that does not allow him to use that authority.”
“I’m not an expert on the ways of Washington,” he then said before indicating that he may be for a clean Homeland Security bill. “It makes no sense to me that we’re not funding control of our border, which is the whole argument. I’m missing something.”
When he was heckled, Bush said he is going to assume that those who were booing him are “neutral.”
“I want to be your second choice,” he said.
Bush, who said that Republicans must be willing to lose the primary to win the general election, didn’t pander like Mitt Romney, who once referred to himself at CPAC as someone who was “severely” conservative.” Bush stood by his support for Common Core and said he believed it was not a government takeover of education. And there is no indication that Bush will pander on immigration or Common Core going forward.
“I’m not backing down from something that is a core belief,” Bush said on Thursday at the Club for Growth’s retreat in Florida, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Are we all just supposed to cower because, at the moment, people are upset about something? No way, no how.”
He effectively answered other policy questions on the economy, the regulatory state, national security. Sounding like a technocratic Mitch Daniels without the former Indiana governor’s common-man appeal, Bush described himself as a “practicing, reform-minded conservative” who has a record of reform in state government.