CPAC activists booed Jeb Bush when Sean Hannity broached the subject of immigration in a Q&A with the former Florida governor, but Bush stood by his perceived conservative heresies on the issue, winning applause as he argued that Americans shouldn’t feel deprived of jobs by incoming immigrants.
“For those who made an ‘oo’ sound — is that what it was? — I’m marking you down as neutral and I want to be your second choice,” Bush said, grinning. Asked if he still supports providing driver’s licenses and in-state tuition prices to illegal immigrants, Bush initially demurred. When Hannity circled back to those past stances, he stood by the policies — neither of which passed into law when he was in office — and noted that a conservative state legislature and governor signed an in-state tuition bill into Florida law just this year.
Bush said that “first and foremost” the federal government should secure the borders, but emphasized that “there is no plan to deport 11 million people.”
He argued that immigration hawks who suggest that incoming illegal immigrants will deprive poor Americans of job opportunities implicitly subscribe to a liberal view of the economy as a static thing.
“I believe that what we ought to be focused on is growing the economic pie and growing it in a way that looks more like the 80s in America,” he said, referring to America’s four percent economic growth rate in those years.
Bush seemed skeptical of using the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill to block Obama’s executive orders, though he didn’t make that explicit and instead emphasized the illegality of Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
“The president did use authority he didn’t have, the courts are going to overrule that,” he said. “I think the Congress ought to pass a bill that does not allow him to use that authority . . . It makes no sense to me that we’re not funding control of our border.”