Former Florida governor Jeb Bush officially entered the 2016 Republican presidential race yesterday in Miami. The launch featured a moment when Bush addressed immigration advocates in the crowd wearing shirts that said “legal status is not enough”:
“By the way, just so that our friends know, the next president of the United States will pass meaningful immigration reform so that will be solved – not by executive order.”
How Bush defines meaningful immigration reform, however, isn’t laid out on his official campaign website. Over the course of his political career, though, he has laid out some of his views on immigration reform. Here are five things we know based on his past actions and public statements on immigration:
1. Bush would overturn the President’s executive actions on immigration, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiatives.
Bush has said that President Obama’s executive action on immigration undermines the rule of law and is an insufficient substitute for comprehensive immigration reform. He has said that “the right way to fix the nation’s immigration problems is through legislation.” Yet, since even before his brother George W. Bush’s time in office, Congress has been unable to pass meaningful reform.
2. Bush said many immigrant families come out of an “act of love.”
At an event marking the 25th anniversary of his father’s presidency, Bush showed compassion towards immigrants seeking to provide for their families. According to the Washington Post, Bush said that “many who illegally come to the Unites States do so out of an ‘act of love’ for their families.”
3. Bush believes that DREAMers should have a pathway to citizenship.
When asked about how his views differed from Mitt Romney’s proposed immigration policies, Bush said in a 2013 interview that young undocumented youth who came to the country through no fault of their own should be able to apply for citizenship:
“…for children of illegal immigrants, those who can’t come here illegally that were children, that they should have a path to citizenship on a far faster basis. The so-called “DREAM Act” kids.”
4. Bush stated that enforcement-first responses to the 2014 surge in unaccompanied children and mothers were “pragmatic”.
During the summer of 2014 when thousands of young migrants show up to our southern border fleeing violence in Central America, Bush said that this showed the need for more border security in a Wall Street Journal editorial:
“….the ease with which so many of them are illegally entering the U.S. underscores the inadequacy of our border security. We now have a humanitarian crisis on our southern border that demands strong leadership that respects the rule of law.”
However, many children were turning themselves over to Border Patrol agents upon arrival and were not seeking to evade apprehension.
5. Bush recognized the economic power of immigrants.
Bush said that high-skilled immigrants can help boost economic growth and called immigration reform “a huge opportunity… not a problem,” He also said that another solution to fixing our immigration system involves reforming our legal immigration in order harness the contributions of those “looking for those whose skills and drive will make a difference.”
He appears to understand that the U.S. immigration system is in need of legislative reform. However, it remains to be seen how immigration will fit into his official platform and how he, unlike several presidents before him, will be able to motivate Congress to make the necessary changes.