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. Former Republican

    I doesn't matter who the GOP puts up. They will not beat Hillary or even Biden!

    March 5, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. v_mag

    These articles about Jeb Bush (or Jed Clampett, as I like to think of him) remind me of philosophers discussing how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

    Hey, it's Jeb Bush, folks. We're not talking about anyone who has a remote chance of being elected President. Most people I know feel nauseated when the B word is even mentioned. Can you imagine the mess on the floor of the voting booth if he were ever to grace the ballot?

    March 5, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    @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."

    Are you kidding me? The reason why we have so many illegals in the country is because American company owners chose to break the law by hiring them – at low wages, without benefits, without having to pay FICA or unemployment insurance or anything, all the while holding over their heads that they could be deported at any time. Most illegal aliens work very hard at manual labor – and if they can't make ends meet and need public assistance, it's because they are paid such low wages.

    Your beef is to all the greedy American company owners who have no qualms breaking the law and exploiting people who come here to make a better life for themselves and their families.

    March 5, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    He must be getting ready for a possible Presidential run. Being from Florida will get him national exposure as the Republican that likes Latinos, without having a Latino surname. Of course it will just be lip service. No real legislation will ever be passed by Republicans to help Latinos to the point where thods Latinos can vote. The same with any other minorityt group (Asians, Blacks, gays, the poor,etc).
    Because those groups are, by and large, voting blocks that favor Democrats. And as long as those groups can be legislativlly disenfranchised, Republicans will keep trying to deny them the right and responsibility to vote. Ask any of the folks who were denied the ability to vote in the last Presidential Election. Some of those folks had voted for years.

    March 5, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    @Fair is Fair: "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?"

    Let's start by throwing in jail and fining into bankruptcy all the greedy American company owners who fired all their living-wage employees in favor of breaking the law by hiring illegals who they can pay dirt wages, offer no benefits, and blackmail with deportation to get them to do what they want.

    Let's start with THEM!

    March 5, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "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?"

    What's hard to understand about there being other, saner, far more reasonable and fiscally responsible "punishments" that "you are permanently relegated to non-citizen, non-voter status but must still pay taxes and live subject to our laws"? The only reason you people refuse to admit that such nonsense runs directly counter to everything upon which this country was founded is because you don't like HOW these people are likely to vote. You say it every single time these articles come up, so don't deny it. You attribute this to some nefarious plan to get more voters, when it's a problem that MUST be addressed to help the country's finances and immigration systems no matter what.

    Anyone who thinks that "round 'em up and send 'em home" is even remotely possible is a nutjob. Anyone who thinks "let 'em stay but never make 'em legal" is even remotely plausible is also a nutjob. But hey, if you want to keep pushing for some sort of a "reset" that somehow, magically buys the GOP/Teatrolls decades of staving off the demographic shifts that spell their political doom, then please the end, your attempts to do so will only hasten the arrival of the result you so fear.

    March 5, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    Jebbie wants the Hispanic vote, knowing that his wife being born in Mexico isn't enough.

    March 5, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. David

    A pathway for criminals. Europeans came here, learned english and made America what it is. Today, immigrants from corrupt countries is taking America down.

    March 5, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    @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 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. TX Jim

    Oh great... Mitt Romney Jr.

    I will say anything to get elected..

    March 5, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    -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?
    Cherished right? We are lucky if more than half of those eligible to vote actually show up to the polls. Add to that the attempts by the GOP to disenfranchise thousands of legal voters, and your statement rings hollow. Besides, people like Mitt Romney need illegals to work on his various properties, so why the fuss? No health insurance for them, and if they die its no big deal. Kind of like your reaction to the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary.

    March 5, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. billmosby

    Just recognize reality and call the borders open. They are, and there's no use making policy that pretends they're not.

    March 5, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. dapper1

    What Jeb now says in this interview seems to line up with what Obama is proposing which is a path to citizenship for people who came here illegally but go to the back of the line. I wonder if that position will change if the rest of the GOP doesn't agree. After all, if you flip flop once, it's easy to flip flop again.

    March 5, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. Randy, San Francisco

    Bush is showing his true colors, a politician without character or courage. He is signaling a run for the presidency in 2016. His flip flopping is an obvious pandering move to attract Tea Partiers and anti-immigration reform extremists in the primaries. Guess the Republican/Tea Party is going to ignore Hispanic voters again.

    March 5, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. kayla

    no more bushes, please

    March 5, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. sonny chapman

    The Mortal Sin of a Repub.-Changing or nuancing a position. Dick Cheney NEVER changed his position on anything. And he was ALWAYS right; just ask him.

    March 5, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. RR

    Go away!

    March 5, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. Greenspam

    What Jeb Bush is saying is that he is pretending to shift his hard stance so that he can run in the next Presidential election. Too bad he can't change his last name.

    March 5, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. George

    lol "We'll give you the right to stay and work low wage jobs, but we don't want you to participate in the political process because you vote for the other guys."

    March 5, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. JimW Statesville, NC

    He's flip-flopping around like a carp pulled up out of the muck and mud. Either you're for it or you're against it. Do we really need someone who flops from one side to the other like this running our country? I say, enough with the Bushes. The last one was a disaster. I said at the time GWB was elected it would take us twenty years to get over him and his administration. I'm beginning to think I was wrong and should have said thirty years.

    March 5, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Pander Bear

    Translation: I flip flopped now in preparation for a Presidential run because then I can say I've held this position for years and can get the weak minded, gap toothed Hillbillies of the Tea Party to support me.

    March 5, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  22. rs

    So much for the "new" GOP, Mr. Bush has radically changed his outlook on immigrants, immigration and reform in the last 6 months- more rightward. He must be preparing to run for the Presidency in 2016.
    Republican True Colors- keep people down!

    March 5, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    Jebba Jabba's genes are showing.

    March 5, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  24. James Bond

    No need to explain anything to me, but perhaps someone should explain to him that he is wasting everyones time, he is politcally irrelevant, his brother should be hanged for war crimes, cheney too

    March 5, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. Getoverit

    I think he evolved...

    March 5, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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