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Jeb Bush is Back: On Board With Immigration Reform That Includes Path To Citizenship (Again)

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The past seven days have been quite a ride for Jeb Bush. He began the week by recanting his earlier support for immigration reform with  a path to citizenship.  That’s because Jeb wrote a book last year when it didn’t seem like a path to citizenship would be the mainstream Republican position. But, the 2012 elections completely changed the politics of immigration reform. While Jeb’s support for legal status, not citizenship, might have been a sorta far-reaching position back in 2012, it wasn’t in Spring of 2013. And, it marked a retreat from his earlier support for citizenship. So, Jeb, who is contemplating a 2016 campaign for President looked out-of-step — and, frankly, just rusty.

When AV’s Frank Sharry appeared on The Ed Show on March 5th to talk about Jeb and his immigration position, he said, “my prediction is by the end of the week he is going to reassert his traditional position in favor of [citizenship.]”

Frank was right. Today, Bush appeared on all five major Sunday talk shows. And, it’s true: he’s back. There was actually an upside to Jeb’s major misstep. The ensuing discussion confirmed that immigration reform must include a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who aspire to be Americans.  In fact, this episode produced the strongest defense of citizenship that we’ve heard from Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) so far

I thought about that issue a lot and [went] back and forth on it before I signed on to my principles and I just concluded that it’s not good for the country in the long term to have milions and millions of people who are forever prohibited from becoming citizens.  That hasn’t worked out well for Europe.

Rubio also predicted Jeb would come (back) around.

TPM’s Benjy Sarlin documents the complete 360 degree in Bush’ thinking on citizenship, bringing us to today:

Appearing on every major Sunday show, Bush all but completely disavows his position. He praises the Senate bipartisan group’s plan and says he called up Graham personally to tell him they were “in sync” and “on the same path” to reform.

“The basic premise needs to be that coming to the country legally should be easier with less cost than coming to the country illegally. And if you can create a system like that — as is being discussed in the Senate and in the House — through a path to citizenship, that’s fine,” Bush tellsABC’s George Stephanopolous.

In an interview with Fox News, Bush says “There’s not much light between what we’re suggesting in the book and what is being worked on right now, which is very encouraging.”

On CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Bush downplays the inconsistency between his book’s tough criticism of a path to citizenship and his apparent support for a Senate plan that includes exactly that.

“Well first of all, I haven’t changed,” Bush says. “The book was written to try to create a blueprint for conservatives that were reluctant to embrace comprehensive reform, to give them perhaps a set of views that they could embrace. I support a path to legalization or citizenship so long as the path for people that have been waiting patiently is easier and costs less — the legal entrance to our country — than illegal entrance.”