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

Mar 5, 2013
10:41 AM

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.

jeb bush

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: