Jeb Bush: Legal Residency, Not Citizenship, For Illegal Immigrants

Jeb Bush may be trying to become a major player in the national debate about immigration. The former Florida Governor is on the road promoting his new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, which highlights his principles on how to tackle immigration reform and develop a pathway towards citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The Republican son and brother of reformer presidents believes that undocumented immigrants should be legalized once there is a system set in place that "if people come here illegally, they have to pay a fine or do community service [and] make sure they don't commit any serious crimes."

Bush proposes that this can be done without encouraging more unauthorized immigration. “Over a period of time, they can have a legalized status that allows them to live a life of dignity," he tells NPR, "but not necessarily a path to citizenship, so as to not create incentives for future people that aspire to come to our country to do so illegally when they could come legally."

Moreover, he suggests that undocumented immigrants who want to become citizens of the U.S. should apply via their homeland first. "Right now, in effect, we tell people to get in the back of the line, but the line is either so long or it doesn't exist — I mean, we don't really have that option. Our proposal ... would allow for that option to exist,” Bush stated.

Despite his stance during his radio interview, Bush told MSNBC's Morning Joe that he doesn't have an issue with developing a path towards citizenship - not just residency. "So going forward -- we wrote this last year -- going forward, if there is a difference, you can craft that in law where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn't an incentive for people to come illegally, I'm for it," he said. "I don't have a problem with that. I don't see how you do it, but I'm not smart enough to figure out every aspect of a really complex law."

As many have suspected, he may be pushing for a 2016 bid. At this point, he hasn’t denied or affirmed the possibility. When asked if he was considering running for President, he said, "I'll let you know if I ever decide to do that." Could his discourse be a strategic way to reach minority voters early on?

What are your thoughts on Jeb Bush’s comments?