The news that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is planning to run for president is a notable development for the politics of immigration. Often a lonely pro-reform voice in a Republican Party that has lurched to the right on immigration, Bush nonetheless needs to clarify and/or answer several essential questions about immigration as he positions for a presidential run.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
While Jeb Bush has often been a voice of reason among Republicans on matters of immigration, the rollout of his immigration book showed him to be rusty on the current politics of immigration. Below, we offer 5 specific questions for him – they aren’t multiple choice and it’s important that he be pressed to respond clearly to each topic.
But each of the specific questions fall under a general line of inquiry: will he embrace his pro-immigrant record and stand up to the nativist wing of his Party that is driving the GOP off a demographic cliff? Or will he distance himself from his pro-immigrant roots for Republican primary and caucus audiences?
Below, we present 5 essential questions for Jeb Bush on immigration:
- If elected President, would you keep President Obama’s executive actions on immigration in place? Earlier this year, Jeb Bush acknowledged that rather than a crime, undocumented immigrants have committed an “act of love” by seeking a better life for their families. Yet after President Obama announced his executive actions, Bush criticized the actions and said they would make it more difficult to pass bipartisan immigration legislation (which House Republicans have refused to vote on). Given that the executive actions are temporary in nature, and assuming the next Congress fails to overturn the Obama immigration actions and pass superseding legislation, will Bush keep these programs in place should he become President?
- Do you support the congressional Republicans’ efforts to block or overturn executive action? Republicans in the House passed legislation to prevent the executive action from taking effect and a Senate companion bill has been introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Additionally, Republicans are gearing up for a full-throttle attempt to challenge executive action during the early months of 2015. Does Governor Bush support these various legislative attempts to block and/or overturn executive action?
- Do you support or oppose the multi-state lawsuit against President Obama’s executive actions that the State of Florida, and 23 other states, have joined? Two dozen states, including Florida, have joined a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the president’s announced executive actions on immigration. Does Governor Bush support this lawsuit?
- Do you support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants? In his 2013 book on immigration policy, Bush reversed course from his earlier embrace of citizenship and instead called for a pathway to legal status for the undocumented, but not citizenship. After being roundly criticized for this flip-flop, Bush tried to walk back his comments and expressed conditional support for an earned pathway to citizenship.
- If “yes,” will you remain steadfast in your support for a comprehensive immigration reform overhaul during the primary season, or will you hide behind a “border security first?” message and approach? “Border security first” has become a polite way to say “comprehensive reform never” and is heard by Latino voters as an excuse for maintaining the broken immigration status quo. Will you retreat to such a posture in hopes of defusing the immigration issue during the primaries, or will you keep your promise to risk losing the primaries to be more viable in the general election?