EDITORIAL: Jeb Bush’s moderate words on immigration

The Anniston Star, Ala.

July 29–For the United States, immigration is a topical buffet: an embellished talking point, a security issue, a political argument and a demographic game-changer. One way or another, it hovers above countless areas of our lives.

That’s especially the case for the Republican Party’s hopes of putting its candidate in the White House in January 2017.

The reason’s obvious. Census Bureau data show that 54 million Hispanics live in the United States (2013 numbers) — 17 percent of the nation’s population. The millions of legal immigrants with voting rights represent a voting bloc that will affect U.S. elections from this day forward. And Republicans’ harsh and often unrealistic stance on immigration makes the 2016 election a quasi-referendum on the GOP’s ability to attract those voters to its side.

Critics may doubt the sincerity in Jeb Bush’s recent comments about immigration. Does he support a path to citizenship because he believes it’s the proper course? Or is he merely trolling for votes?

Here’s what the former Florida governor said in a Spanish-language interview with Telemundo:

“For the 11 million people (undocumented immigrants in the U.S.), they must come out of the shadows, receive a work visa, start paying taxes and also pay a small fine, learn English, don’t receive government benefits, but they come out of the shadows and they receive legal status after some time.”

We tend to believe the former; that is, that Bush’s long-time stance of moderate immigration reform hasn’t twisted during the early part of the primary season. More important, however, is our belief that Bush’s basic premise is spot-on.

The Donald Trumps of the world don’t have a viable immigration plan. They bristle at any notion of what they call “amnesty” and stick to a red-meat agenda that border walls and deportations are the only way to reform immigration.

Well, America can’t deport its 11 million undocumented immigrants because it’s impossible. That’s a non-starter. Plus, Pew Center research shows that approximately 40 percent of the illegal immigrants in the United States came here legally — with the proper documents — but, for one reason or another, have overstayed their visa limits. Concrete walls on our southwestern border won’t do much to solve that problem.

Regardless of which language he speaks in interviews — English or Spanish — Bush’s moderate words about immigration may light him up during the GOPprimaries. But that doesn’t mean his words aren’t without merit.


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