It is not clear how Bush’s new plan will play politically. Opponents of the Gang of Eight proposal particularly object to its “immediate legalization” measure, which would, on its first day in effect, legalize all illegal immigrants who have not committed serious crimes. The Bush proposal also has a legalization provision, although it would require illegal immigrants to first plead guilty to the crime of entering the United States illegally. But the path to citizenship is thought to be an absolute essential for Democrats supporting the Gang of Eight plan. Their ultimate hope in immigration reform is to create millions of new Democratic voters out of those who are currently in the country illegally. That wouldn’t happen under Bush’s plan.
Beyond the details of competing plans, Bush’s new proposal could have an effect on his relationship with Rubio. The Florida Republican senator is showing signs of getting ready for a 2016 presidential run, and Bush, in interviews for the new book, is declining to rule out running himself. That means the two friends and political allies could be on a collision course. Many Republican insiders have thought it impossible that both men would run in ’16, but it’s not clear what might happen.