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Jeb’s immigration plan: flip-flop à la mode

Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Oh, what a difference a day makes.

First, on Monday:

“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Monday he does not support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., a central provision of immigration reform plans being considered by Congress.

Bush has long chided the Republican Party to adopt immigration reform and improve its outreach to minority and immigrant voters. But he said that a path to citizenship would violate the rule of law, and instead is proposing giving a path to legal permanent residency to many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.”


Then, this morning:

“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) walked back one of his new book’s principles on immigration reform on the same day it was released, telling MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ on Tuesday that he would support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants if it could be done without creating a magnet for more unauthorized immigration.

‘So going forward — we wrote this last year — going forward, if there is a difference, 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,’ he said on MSNBC. ‘I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t see how you do it, but I’m not smart enough to figure out every aspect of a really complex law.’ “


The former governor has been making the rounds promoting his new book, Immigration Wars, in which he and Republican lawyer Clint Bolick write that “those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship.”

Jeb — widely known as “the smart one” — initially made headlines for taking a hardline stance on immigration reform after years of being toward the center on the issue. In fact, both brothers had always been prominent Republican supporters of a path to citizenship for the undocumented.

So it’s hard to gauge why Jeb decided to flip-flop on his long-held position by rejecting a path to citizenship in his book, only to reject his rejection while promoting the darn thing.

Looking at the tectonic shifts that occurred during only the past few months, I can make a decent guess.

Bush wrote the book when immigrant-bashing was à la mode. Maybe he was hopeful enough at the time to think that Romney would win the election, and he clearly couldn’t foresee the thumping that the GOP received in November and how it would freak Republicans out into becoming immigrant-huggers. (Truthfully, the extent of the shift even took me by surprise.)

But now that he’s out and about promoting his book that says immigrants don’t deserve a path to citizenship, many Republicans are singing a different tune. It’s akin to a Mormon saying that blacks can’t be priests — so 35 years ago.

The most unsettling aspect of Bush’s “flip-flop flip” (HuffPo’s phrase, not mine) is its potential pervasiveness. How many Republicans support (or oppose) an issue only because they think it’ll win them more votes or higher-paying speaking engagements?

At the risk of appearing too cynical, yet given the amount of vitriol coming from the Republican Party as recent as October, it’s only too easy to believe that there are plenty of GOPers hopping to whichever lily pad they think will keep them afloat.

And a path to citizenship is just such a lily pad.

Jeb Bush was against a path to citizenship yesterday. Now he’s for it today.

I can’t wait to hear what his new firm principles will be tomorrow.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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