The Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) Independent Task Force on immigration released a 118-page report on immigration policy at an event held at the CFR’s Washington office this morning. The Task Force’s co-chair and event headliner, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), was noticeably absent due to “plane issues.” He was replaced by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s president and prominent figure in Republican politics, Richard Land.
In his absence, CFR’s Senior Fellow, Edward Alden, was asked by moderator Mark Whitaker to speak on behalf of Bush:
WHITAKER: Since Governor Bush is not here, I’m going to ask you to channel him. Obviously, he had a lot of experience with this issue in Florida. I’m sure it came up in some of the sessions of the task force. What would he say about the political obstacles and constraints if he were here?
ALDEN: That’s a tall order and I wouldn’t presume to speak for him. But, I think what he would point to is simply the fact that our experience over the last 20 years has not been a good one on the illegal immigration front. I mean there was legislation that Congress passed in 1986 that was supposed to address this problem. And it got much worse after 1986 and there’s lots of reasons for that, there’s been lots of analysis.
It’s too bad Bush wasn’t able to speak for himself. It sounds like he played a big role working with Clinton’s former White House Chief of Staff, Mack McLarty, Alden, and other Task Force members, in putting together one of the most sensible reports to come out on immigration yet. The Task Force thoroughly explored the benefits of immigration, without neglecting the costs. Whether immigrants choose to stay or leave, CFR finds that they have a positive effect on the nation’s economic and political interests at home and abroad. CFR’s Task Force concludes that comprehensive immigration reform that includes an “earned” path to legalization, improvements to the legal immigration system, and strong enforcement provisions, will have the long-term effect of improving national security and US international relations.
McLarty observed at the end of this morning’s event that anti-immigrant platforms have ruined the political careers of most nativists, the majority Republicans. In a recent Esquire interview with Tucker Carlson, Bush indicated that he is well aware that the demographics are against his party. There’s been a lot of speculation as to whether Bush will run for president against Obama in 2012. If that’s the case, he’s certainly doing a good job of positioning himself to win over a massive emerging voting bloc of Latinos and naturalized immigrants. Yet following the immigration raids and harsh enforcement tactics employed by his brother’s administration, he’d probably want to avoid mentioning his last name.