Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) told MSNBC's Morning Joe on Tuesday that he would support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants "if you can craft that in law where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn't an incentive for people to come illegally" — a position that puts him at odds with his new book, out today from Simon & Schuster.
In Immigration Wars, co-authored with immigration lawyer Clint Bolick, Bush agues that denying a path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrations is "absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences." Those who enter the country illegally, Bush contends, should "start the process to earn permanent legal residency" after pleading guilty to breaking the law and paying "applicable fines or perform community service." But they should not have access to "the cherished fruits of citizenship":
It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences— in this case, that those who violated the laws can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship. To do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefits of American citizenship. It must be a basic prerequisite for citizenship to respect the rule of law. But those who entered illegally, despite compelling reasons to do so in many instances, did so knowing that they were violating the law of the land. A grant of citizenship is an undeserving reward for conduct that we cannot afford to encourage. [...]
Our proposal imposes two penalties for illegally entry: fines and/or community service, and ineligibility for citizenship. Yet it allows for illegal immigrants who have proven themselves to be otherwise law-abiding members of the community to remain in our country.
In promoting the book today, Bush justifies his change of heart by explaining that "we wrote this book last year, not this year" — after a bipartisan consensus has formed in favor a path to earned citizenship — suggesting that his position on the issue is guided by the political winds within his own party and that he would have included a path had he known that a group of Republicans would endorse it in their reform principles. Watch his appearance:
Immigration Wars does offer undocumented immigrants "the choice of returning to their native countries and applying through normal immigration processes that now would be much more open than before."
The earned citizenship path envisioned by reformers could last at least 13 years and would require immigrants to pay penalties, learn English, pay back taxes, and pass numerous background checks. Bush also seemed to support the path in editorials and television appearances earlier this year and last.