Jeb Bush’s Immigration Reversal Upsets Republicans

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s immigration policy reversal upset Republicans yesterday after Bush unveiled his new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, which puts forth an argument for immigration reform that does not create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. This marks a new policy position from a Republican who has previously stated support for creating such a path.

In his new book, Bush argues that allowing undocumented immigrants to acquire citizenship incentivizes immigrating to the United States illegally and that doing so punishes immigrants who attempt to immigrate properly.

Bush co-authored the book with Clint Bolick during the 2012 presidential campaign, a time when Republican presidential hopefuls were campaigning to the right. Bush finished the book before the end of the year, but the release comes months after Republicans have started to woo Hispanic votes. Some have outright embraced an overhaul that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers similar to the proposals backed by former President George W. Bush.

In reponse to Bush’s new position, one Romney adviser said to The MiamiHerald:

“Where the hell was this Jeb Bush during the campaign? He spent all this time criticizing Romney and it turns out he has basically the same position. So he wants people to go back to their country and apply for citizenship? Well, that’s self deportation. We got creamed for talking about that. And now Jeb is saying the same thing.”

Unsurprisingly, criticism has also poured onto Twitter:

Bush’s argues that his new book creates a policy direction that Republicans can choose to adopt. He told NPR:

“Being against other people’s policies eventually puts you in a downward spiral. It’s fine to be principled and oppose views that you don’t agree with, but you also have to have an alternative. And so Clint and I believe that what we’ve proposed is a good, conservative, economically driven, respect-for-the-rule-of-law set of policies that would work, and it’s something that the Republicans could embrace.”

Bush offers a sharper critique of prior Republican tactics in his book:

“Demanding border security as a prerequisite to broader immigration reform is a good slogan but elusive on details and measurements. What do advocates of such an approach mean by ‘operational control’ of the border? That not a single immigrant will cross illegally? That no illegal drugs will cross the border? That no terrorists will enter our country? What exactly is the magic moment we must wait for before we can fix the broken immigration system?”


Jeb Bush’s immigration shift will likely be on the minds of many attendees eager to hear the former governor explain himself at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference being held later this month.