Jeb’s Pre-Flip-Flop-Flip

Mar 5 2013 @ 1:22pm

Not exactly a great start for Brand Jeb. Elise Foley summarizes the policy described in Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick’s forthcoming book on immigration, calling it a reversal from Bush:

Bush and Bolick write that there should be “two penalties for illegal entry: fines and/or community service and ineligibility for citizenship.” They don’t fully rule out citizenship, however, despite what that sentence implies. Although Bush and Bolick state there should be no special pathway, they say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to go through normal channels to naturalize by going to their native country to apply. That process currently requires three- or 10-year bars and no guarantee of return, making it untenable to many undocumented immigrants.

Benjy Sarlin thinks Bush may be trying to out-conservative other 2016 contenders, while Beth Reinhard notes that Team Jeb is now backtracking on the book-stance, and with a novel excuse:

When Bush and coauthor Clint Bolick were writing the book during the 2012 presidential campaign, the GOP was veering far to the right. Republican nominee Mitt Romney had staked out a hard-line position against illegal immigration, blasting his primary rivals as pro-amnesty and promoting “self-deportation” for undocumented workers. Bush sent the book to the printer before Christmas – weeks before a handful of Senate Republicans embraced a sweeping overhaul that, like the proposals backed by Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, would allow illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. In other words, Bush’s party moved a lot faster than the book-publishing world.

What doesn’t? Reinhard adds that “the bottom line is that in Bush’s zeal to kick-start an immigration reform debate in the GOP, he apparently laid the groundwork for his own flip-flop.” Weigel points out that “this argues for politicians writing e-books or pamphlets that they can update quickly, not writing hardcover tomes that will be mulched unless they become president.” Meanwhile, Reihan focuses on the policy in the book, which he thinks is fair:

This strikes me as entirely appropriate. Unauthorized immigrants who are eligible (i.e., who have resided in the U.S. for a sufficient period) can choose to accept permanent non-citizen resident status and continue to have access to the U.S. labor market or they can leave the country and go through the formal process of becoming authorized immigrants. Many will still have a leg up in the process over other potential immigrants, due to family ties in the U.S., English language proficiency or skills acquired while in the U.S., etc. Yet taking this path will entail taking a serious risk for the unauthorized immigrants who choose it — the opportunity cost of foregone U.S. wages and the very real possibility that they won’t be accepted. That seems like a fair trade.