Immigration Reform Must Include Roadmap to Citizenship


In a newly published book, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and co-author Clint Bolick suggest that immigration reform need not include a pathway to citizenship. The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:

“A path to citizenship will be a key part of immigration reform that Congress is working on this year. The bipartisan ‘Gang of Eight’ in the Senate have included citizenship in their principles, and their colleagues in both houses are following their lead and recognizing that the American dream dims for all of us if we create a class of people for whom citizenship is out of reach.

“Republicans and Democrats alike are following the lead of the American people, who recognize that hardworking immigrants should have a roadmap to citizenship so they can become fully participating Americans. Poll after poll shows strong support for a road to citizenship, among Americans of all political stripes.

“Now is the time for reform that truly unites us and brings all aspiring Americans out of the shadows. As Congress takes up serious legislation, we expect that a workable roadmap to earned citizenship will be a central piece.”

Immigrant families fueling a national bus tour with their stories of hardship dealing with the current broken immigration system rebuked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for flip-flopping on his support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as he looks down the road to the 2016 election.

“He’s putting politics over people, the same people he has supported for all these years,” said Janet Alvarez Magallanes, who was part of the California leg of the bus tour. “I am American, my children were born here but my husband could be deported any day. For me and for my kids, we’ll be very devastated if he gets taken away.”

In an interview Monday on the “Today” show, Bush said that he does not think that most Latinos wanted to become citizens. But public opinion surveys indicate that Latino immigrants do want to naturalize. The Pew Hispanic Center recently released a study that shows that “more than nine-in-ten (93 percent) who have not yet naturalized say they would if they could.”

“Jeb Bush has decided that rather than forge a new path for the Republican Party and be a leader on immigration reform, he will kowtow to conservatives and embrace their brand of exclusionary politics,” said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a coalition of immigrant rights organizations putting on the bus tour. “If he thinks taking this severe right turn in his thinking on immigration reform will win him the Latino vote, he is sorely, sorely mistaken.”

“We renew our call for the Senate to meet the March 21 deadline to introduce a bill. The voices of families on this national tour will be heard by all lawmakers and we will not accept a system which creates a permanent underclass of people who have no pathway to citizenship and full equality.  The very notion is un-American,” Matos added.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Gov. Bush misread the political moment.  He failed to fully grasp the new politics of immigration that have emerged since the 2012 elections, and evidently missed the memo that a growing number of Republicans now support reform with a path to citizenship.”

Added Sharry, “An earned path to citizenship has become the mainstream position in the debate (see new Fox News poll, for example).  And while Bush’s initial endorsement of ‘legalization, but not citizenship’ damages his reputation as a principled leader on immigration reform, we will keep an open mind as he continues his book tour.  We urge him to be clear that he supports a way for undocumented immigrants to work their way towards citizenship and to distance himself from the offending sections of the book and the botched early rollout.”

Concluded Sharry, “The politics of immigration sure have changed.  For the longest time, Jeb was waiting for many in the Republican Party to catch up to him.  Now it’s time for Jeb to catch up to many of them.”


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