Jeb Bush, Jr. Tweets: Father’s Immigration Position Not a “Flip Flop”

Yesterday media outlets began to report about Jeb Bush’s new book, “Immigration Wars” and his positions as he considers a 2016 run to the White House. The news led many to conclude that Bush had suddenly changed his views on immigration, causing a very strong reaction with reformers. When our own Charlie García tweeted a National Journal story about about the issue, the Twitter account of Bush’s son, Jeb Bush, Jr. tweeted back to García, saying that his father’s position was not a flip flop.

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Many have seen Bush as one of the GOP’s most immigration-friendly voices in the country. In this NBC News segment, Chuck Todd clarifies Bush’s immigration position during a interview with the former Florida governor.

As TPM reported yesterday, the reaction to Bush’s stance on citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals surprised many immigration groups and even fellow Republicans:

After years of building a reputation as the “good” Republican on immigration, Jeb Bush shocked the reform community on Monday by ruling out a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a position solidly to the right of prominent GOPers like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

The news stunned immigration activists and aides working on a bill and who have long insisted that anything short of citizenship is a dealbreaker for reform — especially given that Bush wasdecisively in the pro-citizenship camp just months ago. It also was a head scratcher for political observers, giving Bush an unexpected opening in 2016 to attack not only Rubio, but several possible presidential candidates, as overly liberal on immigration reform.

“Wow,” Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy at the liberal Center For American Progress, told TPM in an e-mail. “For a guy who has been a luminary on this issue for the GOP, his endorsement of such a regressive policy is deeply troubling.”

Later in the story, TPM included how a former advisor to Mitt Romney was shocked to hear about Bush’s position:

“Where the hell was this Jeb Bush during the campaign?” the advisor said. “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.”

Bush responded in an e-mail to the Herald that he did not advocate “self deportation” as defined by Romney. And he’s right: Bush’s plan is still way more progressive than Romney’s 2012 platform in that it would grant at least some legal status to the undocumented population and possibly citizenship to some young undocumented immigrants. One theory making the pro-reform rounds is that Bush crafted his latest plan in the Romney era when it would have been considered a centrist compromise only to be left behind as party leaders sprinted to the left on the issue after his loss.

“If he stays with this new, ‘let them be workers but not citizens’ stance, it will be a political blunder of huge proportions,” Frank Sharry, the executive director of pro-reform America’s Voice, said in a written statement. “At a time when voters are looking for steady, principled leaders and Republicans are supporting citizenship in greater numbers, this should be Jeb Bush’s moment. Yet his disturbing flip-flop on immigration citizenship and tack to the right ahead of a potential presidential primary suggests that he’s misread the moment.”

Earlier today POLITICO published a piece about Bush’s appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where Bush clarified his positions:

Bush said on “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that while he favors a path to “legalization,” not citizenship, he would not oppose an immigration deal that granted illegal immigrants in the U.S. eventual citizenship if there were a way to do so without giving them an advantage over those foreigners trying to come to America legally.

“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, I’m for it, I support it,” Bush said. “I don’t see how you do it, but I’m not smart enough to figure out every aspect of a really complex law.”

One of Bush’s most active commentators/critics on Twitter has been the profile of Ana Navarro, the 2008 National Hispanic Co-Chair for John McCain and the 2012 National Hispanic Co-Chair for Jon Hunstman. Here are series of tweets that Navarrro has shared in the last 24 hours:

Jeb Bush Endorses Romney: Will It Matter to US Latino Voters?

Today former Florida governor and GOP moderate Jeb Bush endorsed Mitt Romney's candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination. The Romney campaign immediately released the following statement on its website:

“Jeb Bush is synonymous with good government and with conservative policies that yield results. He has long demonstrated an outstanding ability to bring people together. I therefore take tremendous pride in having earned his endorsement. This is a key moment in the presidential contest and Jeb’s counsel and support will be critical in the coming months in my effort to defeat Barack Obama and turn around our country.”

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Bush, who actually kind of has a clue about the importance of the US Latino vote, immigration reform, and is fully bilingual to boot, issued the following statement:

“Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney on his win last night [in Illinois] and to all the candidates for a hard fought, thoughtful debate and primary season. Primary elections have been held in thirty-four states, and now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall.

“I am endorsing Mitt Romney for our party’s nomination. We face huge challenges, and we need a leader who understands the economy, recognizes more government regulation is not the answer, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism and works to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed.” also ran a response to the endorsement from Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigrant-rights group America’s Voice:

“Say it ain’t so, Jeb. It’s bad enough that Florida Republicans who have fought bravely for immigration reform, such as Mel Martinez, Carlos Gutierrez, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, embraced and endorsed Romney. Now you, too?”

Of course, the DNC was quick to respond about Bush's endorsement, focusing on Bush's history on immigration.

In response, DNC Hispanic Caucus Chair Iris Y. Martinez released the following statement:

“Jeb Bush used to be a leader in favor of sensible immigration proposals who was willing to work with Democrats on practical solutions for Hispanic families. But today he decided to endorse a candidate who would be the most extreme presidential nominee of our time on immigration and is wrong on every matter of importance to Hispanics. In doing so, Jeb Bush has picked politics and turned his back on the Latino priorities he once sought to bolster. 

“By fully putting his weight behind Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush is endorsing his call for immigrant families to self deport, his threat to veto the DREAM Act, his attack on DREAM Act students as ‘looking for a handout,’ his plan to nationalize the extreme Arizona anti-immigrant law, his attacks on Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and his wrong-headed approach on every other issue of importance to the community. 

“Jeb Bush’s statement sends the message that it’s permissible for sensible Republican leaders to turn their backs on priorities of the Hispanic community as long as it’s politically convenient, and that it is acceptable for Republican leaders to scapegoat a group of Americans if it scores them a point with the far right. What Latinos are looking for in this election is not leadership of convenience, but of conviction – and that’s why they are looking to reelect President Obama.”

The DNC also made sure to publish a Spanish version as well:

“Jeb Bush solía ser un líder que favorecía propuestas sensatas de inmigración y estaba dispuesto a trabajar con los demócratas en soluciones prácticas para las familias hispanas. Pero hoy ha decidido respaldar a quien sería el candidato a la presidencia más extremista de nuestros tiempos en materia de inmigración y está equivocado respecto a los asuntos de importancia para los hispanos. Al hacerlo, Jeb Bush ha escogido la política y le ha dado la espalda a las prioridades de los latinos que alguna vez trató de apoyar. 

“Al respaldar plenamente a Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush está apoyando al llamado de Romney para que las familias inmigrantes se auto deporten, su amenaza de vetar la Ley DREAM, su ataque contra los estudiantes que se beneficiarían de la Ley DREAM a quienes acusa de ‘buscar una limosna’, su plan para aplicar a nivel nacional la extrema ley de Arizona contra los inmigrantes, sus ataques contra la jueza de la Corte Suprema Sonia Sotomayor y sus perspectivas equivocadas sobre todo asunto de importancia para la comunidad. 

“Las declaraciones de Jeb Bush envían el mensaje de que se tolera que líderes republicanos sensatos les den la espalda a las prioridades de la comunidad hispana siempre y cuando sea conveniente en términos políticos. También dice que es aceptable que los líderes republicanos usen como chivos expiatorios a un grupo de estadounidenses si representa una victoria política con la ultra derecha. Lo que los latinos buscan en estas elecciones no es el liderazgo por conveniencia sino por convicción, y por eso se proponen volver a elegir al Presidente Obama”.