On Saturday, Iowa congressman Steve King, an infamously anti-immigration advocate, hosted a political event for Republican conservative presidential hopefuls. Missing from this roster of potential presidential contenders was Jeb Bush. In the past Congressman King has made disparaging and pejorative remarks towards undocumented individuals. His personal verbal attacks have made him a leader for some extreme left-winged republican conservatives, including Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor Ted Cruz, Texas senator.
Jan Mickelson, a conservative talk show host began the event by stating, “Nobody from Iowa cares a sliver about immigration. All of us came from somewhere. What we do care about is illegal gate crashers.” Keeping up and adding to the anti-immigration tone, Sarah Palin, former Alaskan governor stated that the President was “an overgrown little boy.” Palin admonishing him for his stance on immigration and the executive action that he put into place in the final months of 2014. Even Donald Trump had a negative comment directly aimed at Jeb Bush, for a statement that he made last year about undocumented individuals coming to this country as an “act of love” in order to take care of their families. Trump insisted that Bush’s sentiments were gravely misconstrued and contended that half of the undocumented individuals were known to be criminals.
The event that Congressman King hosted represented a panel of some of the most ultra-conservative, anti-immigration politicians in today’s Republican Party. These individuals were supporters of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race, a staunch anti-immigration advocate who expressed his thought that all undocumented immigrants should “self-deport.” This comment in retrospect may have directly caused the party to lose 73 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Jeb Bush made remarks only a day before that directly contrasted those put forth by King’s conservatives. In a speech in San Francisco to the National Automobile Dealers Association, to approximately 4,000 individuals, Bush expressed the necessity for a positive image of a Republican future that includes immigrants. He continued to promote the idea that if the Republican Party wished to retake the White House, the only way to win the vote would be through positivism and optimistic changes.
Bush’s moderate stance on immigration could win him the support of moderate voters who do not agree with the hard-lined policy that the ultra-conservatives are putting forward. Bush, whose wife is a Mexican born immigrant, argued that the nationality identity of the country is not based on race. He asserted that his beliefs stem from the fact that the United States is in dire need of an immigration policy that is realistic. The first point of attack for an immigration reform, according to Bush, would be to secure the borders of the southern states. The second step, he mentioned would be to locate individuals who entered the country on a visa, but overstayed.
Bush also stated that the government should take additional steps to enforce the laws against employers who hire and employ undocumented individuals. Additionally, he suggested that the visa petition category for siblings and parents of adults should be eliminated, narrowing the family based petitions to spouses of United States citizens, and minor children.
Bush went on to promote the idea that a path to legalized status needs to be put forward for individuals who have remained in the country for many years, who have established lives here and have remained free from any criminal history.
Bush was one of five major president contenders on the Republican side who did not attend the event in Iowa. Also missing were Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and third-time presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney.