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Jeb Bush to call for immigration reform -- this Congress, this year

UPDATE: Bush tells Jonathan Martin that he opposes the Arizona immigration bill, too.

Right after his not-so-secretly preferred U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio comes out against Arizona's new immigration reform law, Jeb Bush lends his name to an under-the-radar conservative campaign for federal immigration reform this year. On Thursday, Bush will headline a "nationwide strategy call with key business and Evangelical leaders to share convictions around the need for immigration reform this year," according to Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Bush -- who'll be joined on the call by Carlos Gutierrez, his brother's Commerce Secretary during the 2006/2007 immigration debate -- has long favored some sort of comprehensive reform that bolsters border security while allowing more immigrants to attain citizenship. CCIR -- which, to be honest, doesn't make much of a splash outside of its press releases -- has come out vehemently against Arizona's legislation. Bush, who in semi-retirement is allowed to pick his battles, has yet to speak out on it. But this puts him at odds with Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

By the way, if you haven't read that Rubio statement yet, it's worth checking out.

"Our legal immigration system must continue to welcome those who seek to embrace America's blessings and abide by the legal and orderly system that is in place. The American people have every right to expect the federal government to secure our borders and prevent illegal immigration. It has become all too easy for some in Washington to ignore the desperation and urgency of those like the citizens of Arizona who are disproportionately wrestling with this problem as well as the violence, drug trafficking and lawlessness that spills over from across the border.

"States certainly have the right to enact policies to protect their citizens, but Arizona's policy shows the difficulty and limitations of states trying to act piecemeal to solve what is a serious federal problem. From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don't believe Arizona's policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with 'reasonable suspicion,' are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens. Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.

"I hope Congress and the Obama Administration will use the Arizona legislation not as an excuse to try and jam through amnesty legislation, but to finally act on border states' requests for help with security and fix the things about our immigration system that can be fixed right now - securing the border, reforming the visa and entry process, and cracking down on employers who exploit illegal immigrants."

By David Weigel  |  April 27, 2010; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Immigration  
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