Jeb Bush: Immigration Is Key to America's Comeback

Sunday, 31 Mar 2013 06:50 PM

By Jim Meyers and John Bachman

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, author of a new book on immigration, tells Newsmax that America’s “incredibly complex” immigration laws should be reformed “from stem to stern” with an eye toward attracting and retaining more skilled workers from other nations.

Immigration is also one of the topics discussed in the cover story Bush wrote for the April edition of Newsmax magazine, “Growth Is the Answer.”

Note: Get your copy of Jeb Bush’s Special Report “Growth Is the Answer” with our FREE Offer – Click Here Now

Some critics have said that in his new book “The Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution”  — co-written with constitutional law expert Clint Bolick — Bush reverses his position on illegal immigrants and maintains that he opposes a pathway to citizenship for those who entered the United States illegally and remain in the country.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Bush addresses that criticism: “It’s safe to say that there was a rush to criticize early when the book hadn’t been published and people were opining on it. If people get a chance to read the book, they’ll find that this is a comprehensive set of solutions. There’s not one element of it that you can look at, it’s got to be looked at in its entirety.

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“The basic principle underlining our set of recommendations is that legal immigration should be easier, less costly, and done over a shorter period of time. There should be incentives for people to come legally and the cost of coming illegally should be higher.

“If you have that then people will want to come legally and they can make a contribution, a full contribution to our economy. We’re basically advocating a shift towards an economy-driven immigration strategy where we focus on economic growth being the principle reason why we need to reform our immigration system stem to stern.”

Bush says we should re-examine our “family reunification” policy, which allows many immigrants who establish themselves here to bring members of their extended family into the country legally.

“Family reunification is a noble tradition but what’s happened is we have what’s called the chain migration effect — 67 to 75 percent of all legal visa holders come through family reunification. Only 13 percent come for economic purposes. Canada, our neighbor, has the exact opposite — about 15 percent who come through family and about 75 to 80 percent who come for economic purposes. We’re suggesting we should move toward the Canadian model and still be true to our heritage as a nation, being a nation of immigrants.”

He asserts that U.S. immigration policy should “narrow the definition” of which family members qualify for reunification, “narrowing it down to what people think it is, which is spouses and minor children.

“If you did that you’d probably free up 500,000 slots a year that would then allow you to create legal immigration for people that want to come to work. You could create a guest worker program, you could expand H-1B visas, you could give people green cards. If the demands in the economy seeking high-skilled labor existed, you could expand dramatically the economic side of immigration and it would create at least an additional 1 percent growth in our economy, and the good Lord knows we need that.”

Bush writes in his Newsmax magazine article that “today’s immigration laws are written for another century in a different kind of economy.” One policy that brings to mind is the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allows those who flee Cuba and reach American soil to remain in the country.

Asked if this policy needs to be revisited, Bush responds: “I don’t think it’s being revisited in Congress right now. Clearly if the United States’ relationship with Cuba changed, which would require a regime change inside Cuba, if Cuba moved towards a more democratic approach to governance rather than this despotic rule of tyranny, if they moved towards the systems that have created more economic prosperity, then our immigration laws would change accordingly.”

Bush agrees that the policy gives an advantage to Cubans: “It’s clearly unique. There is no other country that has the Cuban Adjustment Act; that’s why it’s called the Cuban Adjustment Act and not the Nicaraguan Adjustment Act.

“We have incredibly complex immigration laws and we should review all the laws from stem to stern to move into the 21st century.”

As for specific immigration policies that trouble Bush, he tells Newsmax: “You have the temporarily protective status, which was temporarily granted for example for Central Americans: El Salvadorans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, in the 1980s. We have millions of people that are under this temporary protective status permanently.

“We should at some point recognize that that’s the case, that their children and they themselves after 20, 25 years are American. They’re here legally, they work, they embrace American values, but they have this temporary status that needs to be adjusted.

“The idea that we need a guest worker program, which we’ve had with great success in our past, is another example of a change that would be appropriate.”

He also believes that U.S. policy forces some highly skilled foreigners to leave the country after several years, in many cases after they have obtained an American education.

“Some of them come with the skills and they have a three-to-six-year period where they can work and once that work time expires they’re not allowed to stay in the country.

“We train them, we may educate them as well, and then send them off to compete with us.

“People are very pessimistic, uncharacteristically so for Americans, but America still is the land of opportunity and high-achieving people with great aspirations should be able to come if they can make an immediate contribution to our economy. That’s where the focus needs to be and where the policy makers in Washington seem to be making pretty good progress.”

Note: Get your copy of Jeb Bush’s Special Report “Growth Is the Answer” with our FREE Offer – Click Here Now

Related: Jeb Bush: Entitlement System Will Collapse If We Don’t Act Now



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