This is the sixth book I read in preparation for the 2016 Presidential Elections.
I found myself agreeing with many proposals in this book, which doesn't happen often when I read books by Republican candidates. That's caused by two things. First, I'm probably a little more in favor of labor market liberalization than many Democrats are, and I feel the current system is working against highly skilled immigrations. Secondly, and this is surely an interesting problem for Mr. Bush, he is much more centric than the current Republican party is when it comes to immigration. That will be problem for him in the primaries, but will help him in the general election.
And, should he become President, we'll have someone in the White House who truly understands immigration which is great. Mind you, I won't vote for a Republican -- but Mr Bush definitely seems to be the least bad from the bunch.
Mr Bush co-wrote the book with Clint Bolick, a conservative lawyer. The basic tenets of their immigration proposal? First, reduce family-based immigration. Only allow people to petition for their spouse and children, no longer for siblings or parents. Secondly, the amount of immigrants will be kept roughly equal but there will be many more work permits available and sponsoring someone for citizenship will no longer require family ties (but have presumably huge waiting lists).
The hardest part of any immigration policy is to decide what to do with people here illegally already. Their proposal is surprisingly generous: they recognize that deporting people is not a true option. So they propose that those people will have to pay a fine and get permanent residency -- but never citizenship. So far, so good -- it sounds like a possible compromise. But at the same time, later in the book they say that "millions of people have overstayed their visa illegally and should all leave the country" -- which rather contradicts that earlier plan. Strange.
But to be fair, immigration is a hugely complex issue -- intellectually as well as politically -- and these types of inconsistencies are pretty rare in the book. Overall, the authors provide a very coherent, very humane set of proposals that would significantly improve the immigration system and increase the economic benefits for the US.
So how do I interpret this in light of my quest to read all books by Presidential candidates? It confirms my earlier idea that Mr. Bush will be a formidable opponent to Mrs. Clinton, should he become the candidate (which I find likely). He is not your average white-male Republican and has a genuine passion to make immigration work better. He believes in the benefits of a multicultural society and a economy that is improved by immigration. In his book he denounces many on the right side of the Republican party (the "secure the borders first" crowd) and he establishes himself as a center-right, reasonable politician.
Mark my words -- it will be a Clinton-Bush line-up again -- and Bush is a very strong candidate.