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The Other Questions Begging a Response from Jeb Bush on Immigration

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The pro-immigrant protestors who caused Jeb Bush to go off-script at his campaign launch and state, “The next president of the United States will pass meaningful immigration reform so that that will be solved—not by executive order,” also offered a reminder that Bush has yet to provide specific answers to several essential immigration policy questions (such as, “if House Republicans again block that promised legislative push, would you eliminate or keep executive action programs in place?)

As we have said on numerous occasions, Jeb Bush has a pretty strong record on immigration reform.  But despite his repeated calls for immigration reform, there are some troubling signs that Bush is already starting to slide right.  On the campaign trail he has begun to repeat the vacuous GOP talking point that we have to ‘secure the border first.’  For most other candidates, this is an excuse for inaction and a way to avoid the central question of what to do with 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.  In addition, he has stepped back from his previous embrace of eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants who come forward to be legalized.  Finally, he has voiced strong opposition to President Obama’s executive action on immigration.  As a result, here are the key immigration questions on which we need more specific answers from Jeb Bush:

  • Question 1: What Do You Mean When You Say “Secure the Border First?”Governor Bush, do you mean that additional border security should be a priority in the context of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, or do you mean that we should not enact comprehensive immigration reform until we “secure the border first?”  If it’s the former, please specify how you construct a realistic path to all elements of reform.  If it’s the latter, who decides, what are the metrics and how can you overcome those in your party who use border security as a moveable goalpost and an excuse for inaction?
  • Question 2: Would You Eliminate or Preserve DACA & DAPA Should Congress, Once Again, Block a Permanent Legislative Solution on Immigration? Given the fact that Republicans in Congress have blocked immigration reforms in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2014, and given the likelihood that Republicans will still control at least the House of Representatives in 2017, will you commit to keeping Obama’s executive actions in place until legislation is enacted, or will you undo them before legislation is enacted?
  • Question 3: Since You Have Stepped Back from Your Support for a Pathway to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants, Would You Sign Legislation That Bars Citizenship?  As President, would you sign an immigration reform bill that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status, but prohibits them from ever becoming citizens?

At our www.americasvoice.org/2016 site, America’s Voice offers an array of resources on the politics of immigration in the 2016 election cycle, including candidate tracking backgrounders (here is the one on Jeb Bush) as well as reports assessing both parties’ challenges and opportunities on immigration ahead of 2016 (report decoding GOP on immigration here and Democrats here).