June 14th, 2013
11:16 AM ET
10 months ago

Jeb Bush, arguing for immigration reform, says immigrants 'more fertile'

Washington (CNN) – Making an argument for overhauling the nation's immigration system Friday to a crowd of conservative activists, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush claimed immigrants were "more fertile" and thus a great benefit to American society.

His remark appeared to be an inarticulate reference to immigrants' fertility rates, which data show are higher than native-born Americans.

"Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans over the last 20 years. Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity," Bush said at the annual Faith and Freedom conference in the nation's capital.

He prefaced his remarks with an analysis of America's demographic struggles, saying that the rate of Americans entering retirement couldn't be sustained by the current size of the workforce. Economists have long warned that government programs for seniors like Social Security and Medicare face long-term funding problems.

Last year, trustees projected Social Security could pay promised benefits in full through 2036, after which the program could only afford to pay 77% of them. Social Security has already begun paying out more in benefits than it takes in from workers' payroll taxes.

Bush argued Friday the problem lay in an imbalance between working Americans paying taxes and the number of older Americans – living longer – who have been promised government support in their retirement.

"We're going to have fewer workers taking care of a larger number of people the country has a social contract with to be able to allow them to retire with dignity and purpose," Bush said. "We cannot do that with the fertility rates that we have in our country. We're below break-even today."

Part of the solution, he said, was encouraging more legal immigration that would add people to the workforce, thereby creating more payroll tax revenue.

"The one way that we can rebuild the demographic pyramid is to fix a broken immigration system to allow for people to come and learn English and play by our rules, to embrace our values and to pursue their dreams in our country with a vengeance to create more opportunities for all of us," said Bush, a longtime proponent for comprehensive immigration reform.

"This is a conservative idea," he continued. "If we do this we will rebuild our country in a way that will allow us to grow. If we don't do it we will be in decline, since productivity of this country is dependent upon young people who are equipped to work hard."

Bush, unlike many Republicans, has backed a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, provided they pay fines and learn English. Such measures have been staunchly opposed by conservatives, who say allowing people who came to the United States illegally to remain here amounts to amnesty.

Bush's arguments for immigration reform were met with near silence from the conservative crowd Friday, and following his speech the former Florida governor received a polite standing ovation. Comparatively, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who used parts of her speech to decry the bill backed by a bipartisan group of eight senators as "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants, received loud applause.

Bush, who is speculated to be considering a run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, made his remarks the same week U.S. census data indicated rapid demographic changes, including showing for the first time that more non-Hispanic Whites died last year than were born.

The data also showed that Asians were the nation's fastest-growing demographic group, rising in population 2.9% last year. The Hispanic population grew by 2.2%, which the Census Bureau primarily attributed to a greater number of births than deaths.

In total, non-Hispanic Whites were the only racial group to have a negative rate of "natural increase" last year – meaning there were more deaths than births. Hispanics had 872,840 more births than deaths; African-Americans had 435,182; and Asians had 211,537.

CNN's Peter Hamby and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Here's a glimpse of how Twitter users reacted to Bush's comment:


Filed under: Immigration • Jeb Bush
soundoff (311 Responses)
  1. Pogojo

    Just more irresponsible

    June 14, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Joe G

    Who needs a baby quota when the robots are coming?

    June 14, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. kim

    I like this guy Jeb Bush* :) ppl get so bent out of shape when it comes to immigration.....when they don't even know the half of it!

    June 14, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Mike

    A Bush and an inarticulate remark – imagine that! This family needs to go away after his brother left office in disgrace.

    June 14, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Jimmy Harlan

    Jeb must be hanging around Biden too much. Would any other person say something that stupid??

    June 14, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. CraigRB

    I don't think there's any chance for the Republicans to ever regain the White House. They are so completely out of touch and a bit deranged as well.

    June 14, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. what?

    So anchor babies are a good thing now??????????

    June 14, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. aaron

    they are not more fertile, they (and he means Mexicans/Hispanics by the way) are very religious (aka, catholic) and less educated, and we all know that statistically, less educated people create more babies. catholics have more babies. I care about my family as much as anyone but I am not dumb enough to overproduce, or rather I am SMART enough to realize that we as humans have a POPULATION problem. if we were any other species on the planet we would enact population control, either thru hunting or poisoning. life is not a miracle. life is what happens. wake the F up. just because previous generations over produced and now we have the burden of taking care of them does not mean that we need to compound the problem by creating more. it is an unbelievably asinine solution. these people are our leaders. we are doomed.

    June 14, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. Den Hunter

    People have to understand that even when you get the smartest of the Bush brothers, you aren' t getting that much at all. They are all boxes of rocks up top. Jeb's box is full of fool\'s gold.

    June 14, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. rs

    Joe Mama

    Obviously RS only read the headline and not the article. He said this is an advantage as they we need more younger people to support the aging baby boomers.
    ______________________
    Nope, read the article, and Mr. Bush is largely correct in his assessment regarding immigrants and population. However, "fertility" generally refers to the biological ability to conceive and bear children. Having a lot of children referes to "birth rate". Mr. Bush simply slid (even momentarily) into the uncomfortable Akin, Mourdoch,Franks club by asserting that some how women of other nations were more "fertile" than American women- clearly an error of some magnitude given the GOP facsination, and desire to regulate same with the female reproductive process.

    June 14, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Malloy

    I guess we won't have to worry about Jeb being president. He's much too well read and educated to be a .... oh wait, he's just another Teapubican bigot who 'opens mouth, inserts other foot' Even the conservatives don't like him and any sane person can see just where he is coming from, the moon. Running? What a joke. The Greedy Old Party clown car just keep getting more and more occupants.

    June 14, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Michael in Houston

    Astounding.....expected understand you...but still astounding

    June 14, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Rahul

    I honestly don't know why immigration is illegal in the first place for anyone without a criminal record. It seems to me that if a worker is legally in the US, then the employer has less leverage to pay them a sub-standard wage. Its more money that contributes to the tax base and less money we spend having to argue, control, and regulate it (all of which don't get any results anyway). What is the economic argument against such a stance? Just wondering.

    June 14, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Rob

    Jeb Bush is clueless ... Yes, perhaps many immigrants may tend to be more " fertile " – but, here we go again more families who can least afford to have more babies – having them. The welfare rolls will grow exponentially. The average taxpayer will, once again, be stuck paying the bill for these " more fertile immigrants. " No sale, no thanks.

    June 14, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. GenYer

    Well, after reading the article, I have come to my conclusion. The S.S. that comes out of my check, I will never see. Oh and Jeb Bush must not want to be President ever.

    June 14, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. eatchikin

    Lets see.
    IRS being used as a weapon to attack political opposition.
    News media being spied on by the Administration.
    All Americans being spied on by the NSA.
    Various public and private companies in bed with the NSA spying on Americans.
    Administration Arming terrorists in Syria.
    Using the CIA to infiltrate and incite unrest and political instability in multiple countries.
    Selling guns to drug cartels.
    Running Libyan guns and RPG rockets out of Bengazi into Syria.
    Subsequent Bengazi cover up.
    Holder, and Various other top officials lying under oath.

    .................... Tell me more about how it is that you liberals think all this is OK, but focus intensely on what some Jeb Bush says about people being fertile, and then proceed to expend large amounts of time and energy to bash, crucify, and in general discus as if it is a major issue?

    I am thoroughly convinced that Liberals do not care at all about anything except for Drama and Name calling.
    Too much reality TV I fear ... warping your little minds.

    June 14, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. gb0432

    "Michele Bachmann...received loud applause" for her comments about immigration reform...Bachmann the intellectual midget of Congress...that tells you everything you need to know about the intelligence of those in attendance at the Faith and Freedom conference...

    June 14, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. David

    You can't make this stuff up.

    June 14, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. SarahSoAndSo

    "His remark appeared to be an inarticulate reference to immigrants' fertility rates, which data show are higher than native-born Americans."

    If data shows that immigrants' fertility rates are indeed higher than native-born Americans, why are people getting their panties in a bunch? If it's a fact it's a fact.

    June 14, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. zeibodique

    I have no problem with people from other countries coming to the United States, nor becoming American citizens. I do though, have a problem with them refusing to learn english. Make english a priority for becoming a citizen of MY country.

    June 14, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. jsmoulder

    And Obama said there are 57 states. Everyone slips sometimes.

    June 14, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. Paratrooper_us

    Funny – The people on here make comments on "more fertile" when he clearly commended the Hispanic community for having a better family culture then native Americans.

    Yet these are the same people that like Uncle Joe who told the family of the SEALs that gave their life to go defend the Americans in Benghazi when the Untied States turned a cold shoulder to them, that "They had big balls" at the Photo Op of the fallen returning to the USA in caskets.

    June 14, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Fred

    Hey Bushey. I'd have more kids but because I'm responsible, I cannot afford more! If gov didn't take 50% of what I earn I could and the solution is not allowing people in who'll get on welfare and take more from me. How stupid!

    Also, maybe we shouldn't be aborting 50 million plus pregnancies if this is such a concern of yours, where have you been Jeb?

    June 14, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Buddy D

    Seems like the Bush's can never get enough of the taco. Exactly why we have our immigration problem. G W didn't want to cut off his supply.

    June 14, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    There's a simple solution to SS.. Make the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes.. ..

    June 14, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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