The PJ Tatler

Jeb Bush: Candidates Hiring Illegal Immigrants a Question 'Above My Pay Grade'

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) told NBC’s David Gregory in an interview aired yesterday that the media, to sum it up, is high on trying to stir up intraparty 2016 speculation.

“Who’s the hottest Florida politician right now? Is it you or Marco Rubio? Who are we more likely see in the White House?” Gregory asked Bush on Meet the Press.

“Man, you guys are crack addicts. You really are obsessed with all this politics,” Bush replied.

“You know, I’ve been called a lot of things…” Gregory interjected.

“OK, heroin addicts, is that better? I mean, put aside the politics for a moment,” Bush said. “We’ve got big challenges. And Marco Rubio to his credit is working on those and he deserves a lot of credit for it. I’m very proud of him.”

Bush made the rounds on the Sunday shows to promote his new book Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution.

“My view has been that in order to get comprehensive reform we could take either path, either a path to citizenship or a path to legalization. The important point is that illegal immigrants should not get better benefits at a lower cost than people that have been waiting patiently. So assume we pass the law this year, and I hope that’s the case, five years from now we should look back and there should be fewer people coming illegally because we have an open legal system. Both of those paths could create that as long as you change the rest of the system as well,” he said.

“So what’s going on in the Senate and in the House right now is very positive. I support what Senators Graham and Rubio and McCain and Flake are doing with their Democratic counterparts. And if they can find a path to get to a path to citizenship over the long haul, then I would support that,” Bush continued. “But this book was written to try to get people against reform to be for it. It is a place where I think a lot of conservatives should feel comfortable that there’s a way to do this and not violate their principles.”

Bush said he doesn’t believe creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants would just shore up a Democratic voting bloc for future elections.

“If you look at Asian Americans, for example, in general they have higher income than the median of our country, more intact families, more entrepreneurship, higher levels of education and they supported President Obama 75-24, higher margins than with Hispanics,” he said. “I think there’s a problem that’s a little bit bigger and it goes back to my belief that we need to be offering a compelling alternative, an alternative that says that the lack of social mobility needs to be addressed not by higher taxes and more government, but giving people the tools to rise up and to be successful, that an opportunity society is the path that we should be on. And that aspirational message could convince a lot of people that right now are supporting a more stasis kind of approach.”

When asked if hiring an illegal immigrant should disqualify a candidate from running for office, Bush said it was not a question for him.

“That’s above my pay grade. I would hope that people try hard to make sure that they hire legal workers. It’s the law.”