Politics
Former Gov. Jeb Bush (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Jeb Bush boosts Senate bill by supporting outline of deal

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The Senate’s immigration bill is getting a boost from Jeb Bush, the former GOP governor of Florida and a possible future candidate for the GOP’s 2016 nomination.

“Thanks to the bipartisan work taking place in the House and Senate right now, I am encouraged Washington might pass comprehensive reform this year,” he wrote in an article for The Huffington Post.

Bush did not formally endorse the bill — which is mostly unpopular in the GOP base — but did echo the proponents’ arguments.

Also, his article was a contribution to an advocacy effort by the progressive groups and business groups, which are trying to pass the bill.

The groups include The Huffington Post, Organizing for Action and The Partnership for a New American Economy, which was established by New York May Mike Bloomberg.

To push the immigration bill, the allied groups are staging an online “March for Innovation.” The event showcases support from various figures, include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Condoleezza Rice, as well as hip-hop producer Russell Simmons and Newark’s Democratic mayor, Cory Booker.

The economy needs immigrants, Bush wrote.

“We cannot grow our way out of the structural problems we have without young, energetic and productive immigrants [and] without immigration reform, our entitlement programs will overwhelm us,” he wrote.

Foreigners are just like Americans, he wrote.

“Our nation has been an honorable place of refuge for people to escape religious persecution, to exercise their freedom of thought, to flee overreaching regimes. … Those people are just like us — they only happened to have been born somewhere else by chance,” he said.

Bush also highlighted his family links to Latinos.

He is married to a Latino and now speak Spanish.

Their son, George P. Bush, is preparing to run for office in Texas, which has a growing population of Hispanics.

The Senate bill is being pushed by a group of eight senators, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been a long-standing political ally of Jeb Bush.

Bush’s immigration pitch is politically risky because it clashes with other conservative groups and with the views of GOP base voters.

Fifty-two percent of GOP voters, for example, strongly oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, even if “they pay a fine and meet other requirements,” according to a Washington Post released Thursday. Only 17 percent strongly support that policy, said the poll of 1,001 adults.

Also, the poll said that 60 percent of legalization opponents would not “support a candidate for Congress who voted in favor of a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.”

Opinion was less intense on the pro-amnesty side, with 44 percent of amnesty supporters saying they could not support a candidate who “voted against a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.”