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Jeb Bush's book on immigration stirs controversy

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(Read caption) Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick's book 'Immigration Wars' was released March 5.

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It’s the book everyone in Washington is talking about. It appears to outline a change of heart for a major Republican figure. And it’s already got folks speculating about whether the author will run in the Republican presidential primary in 2016. 

It’s Jeb Bush’s “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” and it’s already stirring controversy.

That’s because Bush, who wrote the book with co-author Clint Bolick, advocates residency for undocumented immigrants, but not citizenship – a sharp departure from his earlier support for a path to citizenship.

Last summer, as other Republicans were duking it out for the party nomination, generally trying to best each other with stricter and stricter immigration proposals, Bush, a former Florida governor who speaks Spanish and is married to a Mexican-born wife, was doing just the opposite. In a departure from the party line, he was advocating for citizenship.

Here’s what he told PBS’s Charlie Rose in June 2012: “You have to deal with this issue. You can't ignore it, and so either a path to citizenship, which I would support – and that does put me probably out of the mainstream of most conservatives – or a path to legalization, a path to residency of some kind.”

Contrast that with his stance in the book: “A grant of citizenship is an undeserving reward for conduct that we cannot afford to encourage.”

Rather than grant illegal immigrants citizenship, Bush outlines a plan in his book which proposes that the government mandate immigrants to pay a fine, pay back taxes, perform community service, and learn English, then become eligible to apply for permanent legal residency.

He doesn’t rule out citizenship completely, but he makes it very difficult. Under the plan laid out in “Immigration Wars,” he says undocumented immigrants may earn citizenship if they return to their home countries and apply through regular channels – after a three- or 10-year ban.

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