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Jeb Bush on Immigration: Wants To 'Politely Ask' Unwelcomed Undocumented Immigrants to Leave US

First Posted: Jan 29, 2015 12:00 AM EST
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Potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has come under fire for recent remarks he made about undocumented immigrants in the U.S, saying the nation should ask 40 percent of its undocumented immigrant population to "politely leave" the country. 

Bush, a former Florida governor, this week addressed attendees of the National Association of Automobile Dealers Convention (NADA), an automotive industry event in San Francisco. He voiced the talking points of securing the U.S. borders and then commented on undocumented immigrants who stayed in the country despite visa requirements.

"First and foremost, we need to control our border. A great nation needs to control its border, not just at the border, which is hugely important, but also the 40 percent of the people that have come here illegally came with a legal visa and overstayed their bounds. We ought to be able to figure out where they are and politely ask them to leave," said Bush on Jan. 23.

Bush's remarks did not sit well with a large national Latino online organization: Presente.org. Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org, said the former Florida governor is "apparently putting immigrant and Latino bashing front and center for his presidential campaign."

"That's not just anti-Latino, it's bad politics. Latinos are more than 10 percent of the electorate, so before Republicans start the tired game of tripping over each other for the best xenophobic slur or statement, we suggest they look at the numbers," said Carmona. "Jeb Bush's statement amounts to nothing more than the failed self-deportation policies presented by the unsuccessful Mitt Romney campaign in 2012. We don't care how 'nice' Republicans say their deportations policies are, the poll numbers show they will face a unified wall of opposition from Latino voters."

During the NADA speech, Bush also described immigrants as the "engine of economic vitality" and called for an immigration policy. He said "We need to find a path to legalized status for those who have come here and have languished in the shadows."

"We have a history of allowing people to come in legally to embrace our values and pursue their dreams in a way that creates prosperity for all of us," Bush said. "No country can do this like America. Our national identity is not based on race or some kind of exclusionary belief. Historically, the unwritten contract has been, come legally to our country, embrace our values, learn English, work and you can be as American as anyone else."

Bush has been considering a presidential run for the 2016 election. Based on a ABC News and Washington Post poll, conducted by Langer Research Associates, Bush tied with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky with the highest percentage rate in a hypothetical race against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In respective polls, Bush and Rand received 41 percent, respectively, while Clinton tied at 54 percent, each. Bush and Paul managed to score a higher percentage than former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The ABC News and Washington Post poll was conducted between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 with 1,003 adults participating. The poll was also conducted in English and Spanish. 

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