The stunning reversal by one of the Republican Party’s leading champions of immigration reform and Hispanic outreach, at least in part, comes down to a colossal political miscalculation.
When Bush and co-author Clint Bolick were writing the book during the 2012 presidential campaign, the GOP was veering far to the right. Republican nominee Mitt Romney had staked out a hardline position against illegal immigration, blasting his primary rivals as pro-amnesty and promoting “self-deportation” for undocumented workers. Bush sent the book to the printer before Christmas – weeks before a handful of Senate Republicans embraced a sweeping overhaul that, like the proposals backed by Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, would allow illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.
In other words, Bush’s party unexpectedly moved a lot faster than the book publishing world…
“He sent the book to the printer at a time when he was anticipating the direction of the debate tilting against citizenship. It is clearly contrary to what he has said before,” said Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy at the liberal Center for American Progress. “In hindsight, Americans have always judged severely efforts to deny citizenship to classes of people. Is this really the GOP’s path out of the political wilderness?”