Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may be on a collision course with his own party over immigration – illegal immigration that is. He said Friday that giving illegal immigrants a pathway to “earned legal status” is a “rational, thoughtful” way to manage the 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. Will those sort of thoughts withstand the brutal primary season?
Bush was speaking at the New England Council’s “Politics and Eggs” breakfast. The all-but-announced Republican candidate proposed giving illegal immigrants provisional work permits once they paid taxes and fines. He said they should also be granted legal status so that they could “earn over an extended period of time,” Breitbart reported. Again, will that propel him through what are generally conservative voters who frequent the Republican primaries?
It’s no secret that Bush’s comments on immigration have been a subject of controversy in the past. In fact, last year Bush said immigrants who come to the United States to provide for their families are not committing a felony but an “act of love.” Huh? As he put it, “I’m going to say this, and it will be on tape and so be it.” The astonished look on the Fox interviewer was a classic.
Bush went on to say, “The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work, to be able to provide for their family, yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love; it’s an act of commitment to your family.”
Understandably, Bush came under heavy fire from conservatives for those comments but stood by them. “The simple fact is, there is no conflict between enforcing our laws, believing in the rule of law and having some sensitivity to the immigrant experience, which is part of who we are as a country.”
For an undeclared candidate who professes to be a “conservative,” such words will not sit well with many in his own party. Bush has also urged House Republicans in the past to take up the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed in 2013. That would provide a pathway to citizenship for America’s illegal immigrant population. Not much different than the executive order Obama signed that is now being challenged in a Texas court and very well may end up in the Supreme Court.
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