On Friday in New Hampshire, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said giving illegal immigrants a pathway to “earned legal status” is a “rational, thoughtful” way to deal with illegal immigrants in the country.
Speaking at the Politics and Eggs breakfast, Bush, who said last year that illegal immigration is an “act of love,” proposed giving illegal immigrants provisional work permits after they pay taxes and fines and granting them legal status that they can “earn over an extended period of time.” Bush said that illegal immigrants should not earn citizenship, which will again bring up his waffling on the citizenship question.
Bush has gone back and forth on whether he supports granting citizenship for illegal immigrants over the years. Before Bush published his Immigration Wars book with Clint Bolick, he told Charlie Rose that he would “support” either a “path to citizenship” or a path “to residency of some kind.”
After Bush and Bolick wrote in their book that permanent residency for illegal immigrants “should not lead to citizenship,” Bush went on Morning Joe and again expressed support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, saying, “If you can craft that in law, where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally, I’m for it. I don’t have a problem with that.” He also told CNN that, “I have supported both–both a path to legalization or a path to citizenship–with the underlying principle being that there should be no incentive for people to come illegally at the expense of coming legally.” As Breitbart News noted, Bush, along with Bolick, also “urged House Republicans to vote for the Senate’s ‘Gang of Eight’ comprehensive immigration bill, which included a pathway to citizenship for nearly all of the country’s illegal immigrants.”
And in a February MSNBC appearance, Bolick argued that though illegal immigrants would not have a “special pathway to citizenship” under Bush’s immigration plan, they would have a “path to permanent legal residency” that would eventually lead to citizenship.” When asked explicitly whether illegal immigrants could eventually get citizenship under Bush’s plan, Bolick answered, “Oh sure. Absolutely.”
“And, in terms of citizenship, you’d have to wait in line with everyone else,” Bolick said in February.
On Friday, Bush said more immigrants are needed to “work in our farms” to “deal with shortages that are chronic” in jobs he claimed Americans will not do. Despite evidence to the contrary, Bush also claimed that “we have shortages of IT workers” and supported increases in high-tech related immigration.
Bush also said the country had to first “control our borders” and “deal with the 40% of illegal immigrants that come with a legal visa and stay.” He supported an “e-verity system that is verifiable” and called for eliminating President Barack Obama’s executive orders (Bush, though, called on Republicans to confirm Obama’s attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch) because they have “created huge mistrust” while narrowing family petitioning.
Bush was speaking in a state in which 41% of potential Republican primary voters in a February Bloomberg poll said that Bush’s views on immigration would be a “deal-killer” for them in next year’s first-in-the-nation primary.