Both The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal published stories today on a new Pew Hispanic Center survey showing that, “Nearly two-thirds of the 5.4 million legal immigrants from Mexico who are eligible to become citizens of the United States have not yet taken that step.” The implication for the current immigration reform debate in Congress is clear: if citizenship is not important to many immigrants why must it be included as part of any immigration reform?
The Wall Street Journal article seems more eager to allow this conclusion quoting Indian-American technology entrepreneur Vivek Wadwha, “We keep talking about citizenship as if it’s the ultimate thing. We should just get this immigration reform done and come back 10 years from now and solve the issue of citizenship.”
The Washington Post, however, pushes back strongly against the possibility of any immigration reform that does not include amnesty. None of the voices quoted by The Post endorsed allowing any immigration reform to occur without a path to citizenship. “They don’t want to be a second-class citizen,” Gustavo Torres, executive director at amnesty advocate CASA of Maryland, told The Post. “They want to be people who make a full contribution to society — people who can work in the federal government, people who can vote, people who can make sure their families can also become citizens.”
More importantly, this morning on The Today Show, former-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signaled that he no longer supported a path to citizenship for those currently in the country illegally. “There has to be some difference between people who come here legally and illegally. It’s just a matter of common sense and a matter of the rule of law,” Bush said while promoting his new book, Immigration Wars. “If we want to create an immigration policy that’s going to work, we can’t continue to make illegal immigration an easier path than legal immigration,” Bush continued.
As AEI’s James Pethokoukis points out, Bush’s Today Show reasoning sounds a lot like Boston College political science professor Peter Skerry’s views which he outlined recently in National Affairs. Skerry advocates granting those illegally in the country today “permanent non-citizen resident” status, with no possibility of citizenship in the future.
The Bush-Skerry position is far to the right of the Obama-Rubio framework that the Senate’s Gang of Ocho has been working on, and is much more in line with what Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, have been talking about in the House Judiciary Committee.