WSJ … ‘Clint Bolick: Jeb Bush’s Conservative Immigration Agenda’

Jeb BushBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Fact: Jeb Bush is the only Republican to serve two terms as governor in Florida. Fact: Jeb Bush pulled in 61 percent of the Hispanic vote. Fact: Jeb Bush is fluent in  Spanish. Fact: The Hispanic population is the fastest-growing segment in America.

Immigration is a controversial issue in America but those who seek solutions should not be labeled with false names especially from fellow conservatives who are right-of-center (see The propaganda war of words against Jeb Bush): “Whether he runs or not, it is duplicitous to rewrite Jeb Bush’s conservative history.”

Clint Bolick’s article in today’s Wall Street Journal is in response to a sea of misinformation by setting the record straight about Governor Jeb Bush’s immigration policies (see Jeb Bush’s Conservative Immigration Agenda). Bolick, vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute and a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, co-authored, with Jeb Bush, the book, “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution” in 2013. He wrote:

As Jeb Bush explores a 2016 presidential bid, several conservative pundits are inciting the Republican base against him by reducing his immigration agenda to a one-word caricature: amnesty. “Jeb Bush wants it,” Rush Limbaugh said on Dec. 17. Iowa talk-show host Steve Deace said four days later, “He’s not just for amnesty; he’s an apostle for it.”

Such critics either don’t understand the meaning of the word amnesty, or they are unfamiliar with Mr. Bush’s positions. He has set forth a comprehensive proposal to reform the nation’s immigration policies—and if conservatives get past false depictions and consider his ideas on the merits, they will find much to applaud.

Explaining that Bush is strongly pro-immigration but also passionately pro-rule of law to guide his immigration stance, Bolick wrote:

Mr. Bush’s immigration agenda is set forth in “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” which he and I co-wrote in 2013. His agenda focuses less on the people who are here illegally than on who is allowed and not allowed to come legally, because that is the root of the problem with the immigration system.

Since the 1970s, America has become the only nation whose immigration system is based primarily not on work and skills but family preferences. The U.S. expanded the definition of “family” to encompass not just spouses and minor children but parents and siblings. Those relatives in turn become entitled to family preferences, leading to the phenomenon called “chain migration.” Nearly two-thirds of the one million legal immigrants each year come through family preferences—and hundreds of thousands arrive thanks to the expanded definition of the family in the law. Only about 13% of visas are available to those coming for work or bringing valuable skills.

Mr. Bush’s immigration agenda is set forth in “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” which he and I co-wrote in 2013. His agenda focuses less on the people who are here illegally than on who is allowed and not allowed to come legally, because that is the root of the problem with the immigration system.

Since the 1970s, America has become the only nation whose immigration system is based primarily not on work and skills but family preferences. The U.S. expanded the definition of “family” to encompass not just spouses and minor children but parents and siblings. Those relatives in turn become entitled to family preferences, leading to the phenomenon called “chain migration.” Nearly two-thirds of the one million legal immigrants each year come through family preferences—and hundreds of thousands arrive thanks to the expanded definition of the family in the law. Only about 13% of visas are available to those coming for work or bringing valuable skills.

Many family-preference immigrants are either very young or elderly, consuming social services rather than contributing to the tax base. Insufficient visas for high-tech workers force businesses to export jobs; agricultural production also shifts abroad—to Mexico, Central America, even China—when U.S. farmers can’t hire immigrant labor.

Ultimately the U.S. is losing the best and brightest—many of whom are educated in American universities—to countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Chile and China. And low-skill workers who cannot come legally often pursue illegal options.

Mr. Bush’s proposal would narrow the definition of family for preference purposes to spouses and minor children and increase work and skills-based visas. He would greatly strengthen border security, linking any legalized status for illegal immigrants to tangible progress on objective border security metrics.

A more robust guest-worker program, which unions have blocked, would ease pressure on illegal immigration. Employers would be matched with workers who would receive red cards containing computer chips to monitor entry and exit. The cards would be renewable annually so long as jobs are available. Many guest workers would return regularly to their families, paying U.S. taxes while consuming almost no services.

Those who prove they are law-abiding and hardworking can become eligible for green cards and eventual citizenship, though many will not choose that path. All of those reforms further Mr. Bush’s goal of making it easier to come legally than illegally and thus bolster the economy and the nation’s security.

Recognizing that the rule of law requires consequences for illegal actions, Mr. Bush proposes that illegal immigrants who came as adults should be subjected to penalties and not be eligible for citizenship. That proposal ignited a firestorm among liberals when the book was published, even as it helped forge a conservative alternative to the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill in 2013. Yet now the proposal is derided in some circles as “amnesty,” when it is anything but.

The misinformation broadcasted by Mark Levin (who called Jeb a “very good moderate Democrat”), Limbaugh, Richard Viguerie (who labeled Jeb a “dangerous, big government Republican”), and others is easily verified, something that could be done by their fact checkers.

Jeb Bush is married to an Hispanic woman and has spoken fluent Spanish since childhood. He is able to reach a population that Republicans have not done well with since President George W. Bush pulled in 44 percent during his election.

Bolick shared more of Jeb’s immigration policy (are you listening, Mr. Levin, Limbaugh, et al?):

• Requiring fingerprinting all foreign visitors, given that roughly half of all illegal immigrants came to the U.S. legally but overstayed their visas.

• Deploying military resources at the southern border to face down the threat from paramilitaristic Mexican drug cartels.

• Giving states a larger role in policing illegal immigration and flexibility in providing alternatives to federally mandated services such as emergency room treatment for illegal immigrants.

• Patching the loophole in federal law that led to a diaspora of Central American children seeking domicile in the U.S.

• Requiring tougher civics standards for passing the citizenship test—and extending those requirements to all students for high-school graduation.

Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post wrote in 2013 (see The Republican problem with Hispanic voters — in 7 charts): “There are currently 24 million Hispanics eligible to vote. That number will soar to 40 million by 2030 as the 17 million Latinos under age 18 get older. (More than 90 percent of Hispanics under age 18 are born in America and therefore eligible to vote.)” He added, “Just one in ten — yes, TEN — Republican voters in 2012 weren’t white.”

Governor Bush is offering responsible immigration reform along with a path to legalization and serious border security solutions that should ease concerns of conservatives.

Update: The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin adds more on this issue in her Right Turn column (see Jeb Bush, no immigration radical):

The combination of laziness and anti-Bush sentiment has led to widespread misunderstanding about Jeb Bush’s views on immigration, which, at least in his book, are much more stringent than the Senate bill championed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and others.

Bush and Bolick advance the view that we do need immigrants to fuel a dynamic economy. But they do not favor “amnesty” or “open borders” and their preferred reforms are more modest than Bush’s critics would ever let on. Bush favors a greater role for states, including voter ID laws (“states should be allowed to protect the integrity of the franchise with voter identification laws, which are supported by a large majority of Americans, including Hispanics. So long as states make it simple for citizens to obtain such forms of identification, they should have the latitude to require such identification for voting or to secure welfare benefits”).

As I wrote before, disagree with the man but it is disingenuous to rewrite his conservative history.

 

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2 thoughts on “WSJ … ‘Clint Bolick: Jeb Bush’s Conservative Immigration Agenda’

  1. […] – WSJ … ‘Clint Bolick: Jeb Bush’s conservative immigration agenda’ […]

  2. […] Ah, the misunderstood and misrepresented Common Core (see Former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett explains Common Core). As to immigration reform, Governor Bush has a common sense approach to immigration (see Jeb Bush has a plan to secure the border and enforce our immigration laws and WSJ … ‘Clint Bolick: Jeb Bush’s conservative immigration agenda’). […]

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