Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took a new position on immigration Tuesday by saying he would support legislation that had a path of citizenship for people entering the country illegally.
“I would support it,” Bush said on Morning Joe, “if it didn’t create an incentive for people to come illegally at the expense of coming legally.”
He said he would be in favor of a change in the system if there is a legal path. If “you have a different term for people that are here already illegally so that the incentive isn’t to continue to have that process, then I would support that for sure.”
But in a new book, “Immigration Wars,” co-authors Bush and Clint Bolick deny a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.
“If you don’t have a difference between a path to citizenship or a path to legalization, you’re going to create a magnet going forward for more illegal immigrants,” he said of the ideas in the book.
He said his current position on the issue was influenced by the developing consensus from Democrats and Republicans: “If there is a difference, if you can craft that in law, where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally, I’m for it.”
The country would benefit from aspiring immigrants who would help rebuild the demographic base and jumpstart the economy, he said.
In the interview, Bush also praised New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and said he wished Mitt Romney was president, which marked the first time a prominent GOP member has publicly expressed feelings about the former candidate’s loss of the election.
“I think we would have someone who would be in the midst of trying to forge consensus,” he said. “It breaks my heart that he’s not there.”
In a recent Miami Herald article, a former Romney adviser accused Bush of changing his stance on immigration.
“He spent all this time criticizing Romney and it turns out he has basically the same position,” the adviser said. “Well, that’s self-deportation. We got creamed for talking about that.”