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Jeb Bush starts debate with plan to secure border

With the first Republican presidential debate just three days away, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush unveiled a six-point plan to secure the U.S. border with Mexico. 

Bush describes it as "a robust strategy to improve border security."

There is nothing particularly new in the plan. Much of it has been said by Bush in earlier musing on how to secure the border. Perhaps more importantly, Bush does not back away from his central belief that the 11 million undocumented immigrants deserve a chance to become U.S. citizens.

"I believe that for those already in the country, we need to put in place a rigorous path that requires individuals to pass a thorough criminal background check, pay fines, pay taxes, learn English, obtain a provisional work permit and work, not receive federal government assistance, and over an extended period of time earn legal status," said Bush.

"But any plan to address the status of illegal immigrants must be accompanied by a robust strategy to improve border security."

Bush also said he would stop federal funding to "sanctuary cities" that do not enforce immigration laws. It is a position that suggests that while Bush is opposed to Washington "dictating' to the states, he is willing to make exceptions as he deems necessary.

Bringing up immigration now, seems to be a calculated effort to frame the coming debate that will feature the 10 top GOP contenders in the prime time while the remaining candidate appear in an earlier forum on Fox News.

Donald Trump, who tops recent polls, has been a boisterous critic of border security. His often harsh comments have drawn approval from a significant chunk of Republican conservatives.

From Bush's statement:

Securing the border is possible, but it will require Washington to move beyond divisive rhetoric. The following six proposals offer concrete steps that the federal government should take to help secure the border and enforce our immigration laws. We must transform immigration from a broken system into one that benefits every American.

1. A forward-leaning Border Patrol with the flexibility to deploy resources to meet threats.

2. Use new technologies to achieve continuous surveillance of the border.

3. Bolster border infrastructure and improve access to federal lands.

4. Require electronic verification of employment eligibility.

5. Identify and send home the people who are entering the United States and overstaying their visas or otherwise violating the terms of their admission.

6. Crack down on sanctuary cities that undermine efforts to enforce immigration laws.

These six proposals, when combined with a rigorous path to earned legal status, would realistically and honestly address the status of the 11 million people here illegally today and protect against future illegal immigration.

While passions run high on this issue, there is no rational plan to deport millions of people that the American people would support.

It would disrupt communities and families and could cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

The policies I am advocating can ultimately receive bipartisan support in Congress and become law.

President Obama has had six-and-a-half years to address our broken immigration system. Instead of leading the nation towards consensus, he has divided the country.

One has to ask whether he is more interested in providing a wedge issue for his party than offering a solution for the country.

There should be no doubt where I stand. I am committed to addressing the problem of illegal immigration in a comprehensive fashion so we can respond to the legitimate concerns of the American people and build stronger support for legal immigration, which if done properly can be a catalyst to bring us to strong, sustained economic growth that will benefit every American.



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