March 5th, 2013
01:21 PM ET
9 years ago

Jeb Bush explains juggling stances on immigration issue

(CNN) – Amidst criticisms that he's flip-flopped on a key part of immigration reform, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledged Tuesday that he's been supportive both of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and of a lesser measure granting only legal status, saying his position is underscored by a desire to de-incentivize illegal immigration to the United States.

Speaking with Jake Tapper, CNN's chief Washington correspondent and anchor of the upcoming weekday program "The Lead," Bush said that while his new book "Immigration Wars" specifically says immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally should be barred from a pathway to citizenship, he could support such a pathway if it's proposed by lawmakers this year.

Bush stressed the most important facet of any immigration plan was changing the system to ensure the legal immigration process is more attractive than coming to the United States illegally.

"I have supported both - both a path to legalization or a path to citizenship - with the underlining principle being that there should be no incentive for people to come illegally at the expense of coming legally," he said. "Today the only path to come to this country other, than family re-unification, is to come illegally. We need to create another category of legal immigration where there is actually a line. So if you could create that through a path to citizenship I would support that."

"I've always felt that you could not deal with 11 million people and say, 'See you later,'" he said later.

In January, a bipartisan group of eight senators presented a framework for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that is contingent upon bolstering security on the U.S.-Mexico border. The panel's plan has yet to be introduced as formal legislation. A separate bipartisan group in the House is also weighing immigration reform measures, though is working in private and hasn't released any details.

In his book, which was co-written with lawyer Clint Bolick, Bush comes out firmly against a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, writing that "those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship."

That struck many as a reversal of position for the former Florida governor, who said as recently as last summer that he supported a pathway to citizenship.

Bush has been a vocal GOP proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, encouraging fellow Republicans to improve their outreach to minority and immigrant voters. That has led to speculation he's interested in running for president – an office previously held by his brother and father.

But on Tuesday he said he hasn't started considering a run, and won't make a decision in the near future. Will he make a decision in 2014?

"I don't know," Bush said. "The only thing I've decided is I'm not going to think about it for 2013."

Filed under: Immigration • Jeb Bush
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    He's supportive of a pathway to citizenship, just as long as the flood gates don't open up like they did when Reagan tried it back in the mid-80s. When Reagan did it, those already in the country got bumped to the front of the line. They were given higher priority than those abroad who were following the legal path.

    March 5, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. jean tallman

    I get it. You can stay but you can't vote or have any other rights of a citizen. Not surprising.

    March 5, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. Peace

    The easiest way of solving Immigration problem is to give Pres. Obama both chambers as he had in his first two years of his presidency. This means, who ever voted in 2012 and new voters, should come in drove and vote come 2014.

    March 5, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  4. Enough is Enough

    The bottom line is politicians want the hispanic vote, but the American people don't want illegals because they take more than they give. What happens when the illegals are made citizens and they get subsidized Obamacare etc, watch the deficit balloon even more.

    March 5, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Shorter Jebba Jabba: "I'm planning on running in 2016 or maybe a little later, so those brown mofos better not be given the right to vote in the interim."

    March 5, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. lulaenparis

    illegals need to be kicked out and let the professionals that are waiting to enter legally come in.

    March 5, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. lulaenparis

    Illegals need to be deported slowly as they broke the law. And the US needs to give residency and visas to those applying legally year after year waiting to be able to enter and work and pay taxes!

    March 5, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    In other words, Jebba Jabba supports legalizing taxation without representation, the very crime against humanity that forced us to revolt against England in the first place.

    March 5, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. v_mag

    People focus on how much "illegals" supposedly "take". (In reality, they give far more to the economy than they take.) But Repugnants are stone cold blind to how much the rich "take". The average CEO "takes" 380 times as much pay home as his average employee. Not 380 times what the janitor makes; 380 times his average paid worker.

    Then the Repugs try to tell us we can't solve the deficit problems by taxing the rich. BALONEY! If you tax that CEO at 90%, he would STILL "take" more than 38 times what his average employee "takes".

    I'd love to make 38 times as much as I do now. Wouldn't you? Well, I firmly believe the boss is not worth 38 times what I'm worth. Trouble is, he sets my salary and his own, too. Any wonder he is vastly over-paid?

    March 5, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Prosperid

    In other words " I'll change my position from what I said in earlier interviews because I know darn well I can't run
    for president when the destructive tea party controlling my party.

    March 5, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    Of course he has flip-flopped. Anything other than the Tea party orthodoxy is met with cries of heresy, so, naturally he is forced to recant and revise his views. The GOP/Tea Party, the moral paupers of our times.

    March 5, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. ghostriter

    You can't support this and hope to get tea bagger votes. Simple enough to understand.

    March 5, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. NickAnast

    "I was before a pathway before I was against it. Now please vote for me."

    March 5, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. hecep

    I am moved to commemorate Mr. Romney’s return to the political stage, and I therefore offer a conceptual dance, one – that by pure coincidence – will bear a striking similarity to me rushing in a mad, diarrhetic fit to the nearest toilet.

    March 5, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Hey, its simple. Give those already here a pathway to citizenship simply because they have already grown roots here and have already contributed to our society in one way or the other. As far as those with criminal records, get them processed rapidly and deported. Third, lets divert all the resources wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan into securing and strenghtening our borders.

    March 5, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair

    jean tallman

    I get it. You can stay but you can't vote or have any other rights of a citizen. Not surprising.
    The first act they did in this country was to break the law by coming here ILLEGALLY. You want to reward that behavior by giving them the franchise... our most cherished right?

    March 5, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. RINO Bill

    C'mon, give they guy a break! He's not that good, yet, at telling which way the wind is blowing. There will be plenty of more dramatic flip-flops by the Jebster between now and '16.

    March 5, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. bcrunner

    Flip Flop! Flip Flop!! I didn't expect that from Jeb. I thought he was the smart one, but he caved to the tea party! Another Republican bites the dust!!

    March 5, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. Immigrant who came in leagally and is now a citizen

    Did he really say "Today the only path to come to this country other, than family re-unification, is to come illegally." ?

    What a ignorant person. I came in as a student, got a job, got green card and now citizenship. I was legal all the time. I did not follow the "family re-unification" path.

    Does Mr. Bush know that this country was founded by illegals coming here to conquer America? They almost wiped out the natives and enslaved the Africans. Do you really have moral grounds to say anything against illegals ?

    Why am I not surprised to see the ignorance from a flip-flopping republican

    March 5, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  20. James Bond

    The republican plan is to act like they care about them just long enough to legally block their vote, and any other demograph that does not believe their bs

    March 5, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Homer and Jethro

    This guy is even dumber than Dubya. Remember when he was shocked that a hurricane hit Florida? I mean, what are the odds? He said it was unimaginable.

    March 5, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit wrote:

    In other words, Jebba Jabba supports legalizing taxation without representation, the very crime against humanity that forced us to revolt against England in the first place.
    What about convicted felons? Don't some of them fit your description?

    March 5, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. James Bond

    Another pathetic stunt to get in front of a camera or mic, he is more than ready to run, i hope he does, easy dem win if so, he does not know how much we despise his brother, he should be tried for war crimes period

    March 5, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  24. Don Rafa

    When a billionaire earns a billion dollars, that billion dollars represents value, only when it is spent. Money that is not spent has no more value than a glass of salt water in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean.Money has to be spent, (trickle down) into the economy.
    When a corporation earns a billion dollars, those earnings have no value to anyone until it, too, is spent.
    When a million illegals earn a billion dollars, those earnings are immediately spent and add value to the American economy.

    March 5, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  25. martin

    Absolutely the same nonsense script we've been hearing since Ronald Reagan. The only way to stop illegal inmigration is exactly what we have been doing to date; only citizens and legal residents can get a drivers license and police have the obligation to call immigration if they stop an illegal. No license, back you go. Simple.

    March 5, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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