Book Review: ‘Immigration Wars,’ by ‘Bush’s brain,’ Clint Bolick

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Manuel Roig-Franzia, a Washington Post staff writer and the author of “The Rise of Marco Rubio” (yeah, no bias here), has a Book review of ‘Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution’ by Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick:

In the spring of 2002, a young Florida state representative named Marco Rubio sized up one of his mentors, Jeb Bush.

“He’s practically Cuban, just taller,” Rubio quipped to a journalist. “He speaks Spanish better than most of us.”

Few
could dispute Rubio’s inclusion of Bush in a kind of honorary Hispanics
club. Here was a highly consequential Republican governor, a
conservative juggernaut who slashed government payrolls and tangled with
teachers unions, who also happened to fit in seamlessly with Hispanics.
Bush, who is married to a Mexican American woman, would go on to
champion the Dream Act. He’d tout driver’s licenses for illegal
immigrants and in-state college tuition breaks for their children.

Now,
a little more than a decade later, the mentor and the protege are
crowded together in the cramped top tier of contenders for the 2016
Republican presidential nomination. Their possible rivalry over a job
they each seem intent on chasing is one of the most deliciously awkward political narratives in America today.

Both
men embody an aspiration of Republicans: a chance at luring the growing
Hispanic electorate that so overwhelmingly rejected the party in the
last presidential election. What’s so fascinating is how they’ve
suddenly reversed roles. Bush once appeared more moderate than Rubio,
and most other top Republicans, on immigration. Now he’s abruptly
backflipped to his protege’s right on the key issue of creating a path
to citizenship, triggering a furor along the way
.

And all because of a book.

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“Immigration Wars,”
which Bush co-authored with Clint Bolick, an activist conservative
lawyer [with the "Kochtopus"-funded Goldwater Institute]
, was surely intended to play to one of Bush’s strengths. Instead,
it has prompted a critical reexamination of the former Florida governor
and suggestions that this skilled politician and deep thinker might be a
bit rusty six years after leaving office.

The hubbub is over a
small but important part of this sober, substantive and detailed
explication of America’s immigration miasma. In the book, Bush — as any
cable-news viewer should know by now — reverses his previous stance and
declares that he opposes a path to citizenship for immigrants who
entered the country illegally.

That jarring statement distracts from the sweep of the book, which in
225 pages of text (generously double-spaced) presents a sophisticated
take on an issue that often gets reduced to polemical bullet points. [That's what Clint Bolick specializes in.] Far
from being an anti-immigrant screed, “Immigration Wars” often reads
like an ode to immigration, with Bush arguing forcefully and
convincingly for policies that would encourage more — not fewer —
migrants to enter the country.

It’s a curious time for Bush to harden his position on immigration by
opposing a path to citizenship, considering the fact that Republicans
are desperate to woo Hispanics. Even the Cuban American Rubio, once an
avowed opponent of such a path, has been coming around to the idea
lately, joining a bipartisan effort in the Senate to change the nation’s immigration laws.

Bush has tried to backpedal: In interviews this past week he made
qualified statements in favor of a path to citizenship and has explained
that he wrote the book last year. But these limp attempts are undercut
by the tone he takes in print
.

“A grant of citizenship is an undeserving reward for conduct that we cannot afford to encourage,” he writes. [Or is it Clint Bolick speaking?]

Bush deems the nation’s immigration system “not repairable” and
argues for a wholesale reworking
. He would like to wrest control from
the Department of Homeland Security and — contrary to the typical
Republican rhetoric about erasing government agencies — create a whole
new agency “whose mission is consistent with a national policy of
promoting immigration.” Alternatively, he suggests giving immigration
over to a new unit within the Commerce Department.

While extolling immigration’s virtues, Bush also embraces a punitive
approach
. He wants the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the
United States to plead guilty and pay a fine in return for a chance at
legal residency — but not citizenship.

He takes pains to denounce the notion of spurring “self-deportation” by
shutting off work opportunities for undocumented immigrants, an idea
that so undermined Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But
the process Bush prescribes sounds remarkably similar
.

“Anyone who does not come forward under this process will be subject
to automatic deportation, unless they choose to return voluntarily to
their native countries,” he writes.

Earth to Jeb: When an illegal
immigrant voluntarily leaves the country for fear of deportation, that’s
a form of self-deportation
.

He also wields the threat of deportation in another, potentially significant way. . . Bush writes that nearly half of America’s illegal immigrants entered
the country legally but are now in violation of the law for overstaying
their visas.

We need to swiftly deport individuals who overstay
their visas rather than allowing them to stay indefinitely or to pursue
multiple appeals
,” Bush writes. He leaves unclear whether he’s
advocating rounding up somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million people
who’ve overstayed visas or simply cracking down on new violators.
Either way, the number of deportations could be staggering.

But for most of the book, Bush sheds this almost unrecognizably stern persona and settles back into the Jeb we once knew.

* * *

Bush ridicules the border-security-first crowd, those politicians and
policymakers who seem to set up a Sisyphean task of waiting for a “magic
moment” when the border is certified as secure before changing
immigration laws. They are “fighting yesterday’s war,” he writes.
Instead, he advocates coupling border security measures — including
biometric verification systems with fingerprint ID cards, a
controversial issue sure to rile Hispanic advocates — with systemic
changes.

The former governor argues that politicians should not be bullied into
inaction by a “lethal” combination of “ideological rancor, demagoguery,
and political cowardice.”
But his shifts in tone and policy make him
sound a bit unsteady, as if he’s fearful that his previous moderation
wouldn’t be acceptable to the Republican primary voters he may court in a
few years
. Certainly not what might have been expected from a
politician who made his mark by showing a willingness to defy
conventional thinking and herd mentality.

Roig-Franzia concludes. "In writing this odd but irresistible book, Bush has surely inflicted some
wounds on himself, too, at least with moderates who thought they knew
him well. But if 2016 is his aim, he has plenty of time to heal." Jeb Bush is the real "dreamer."

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0 responses to “Book Review: ‘Immigration Wars,’ by ‘Bush’s brain,’ Clint Bolick

  1. Personally, I’ve had enough of the Bushes. Ya.