Jeb Bush: Romney Should Continue Deferred Action if Elected

PHOTO: Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., speaks to Yajaira Saavedra, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. The conference was held as a call out to President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, to talk about their immig

Mitt Romney should continue President Obama's deferred action program for undocumented youth until he can pass a permanent fix, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says.

Romney has said he would honor the temporary deportation reprieves granted by the Obama administration, but then end the program while he works with Congress to find a long-term solution. But Bush, a supporter of Romney who has in the past criticized his immigration rhetoric, said there is no reason Romney would need to discontinue the program while lawmakers debate legislation.

When asked during a Spanish-language interview last week with Univision Radio's Helen Aguirre Ferre whether Romney should "continue and respect" the program while working on a permanent bill -- which could be a lengthy process -- Bush replied, "Me, personally, I think yes."

Bush said that "one of the first actions in [Romney's] administration" should be to work on a solution for DREAMers that would replace deferred action. He expressed confidence that Romney could work with Democrats on a bill.

"While he's doing that, I think it makes all the sense in the world to maintain what exists right now," Bush added.

Many Republicans, including Romney, have criticized Obama's deferred action program. Rather than disagreeing with its aim, they have said the president's executive action hurt the chances of Congress passing a bill to address young undocumented youth.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Romney endorser who is also close to Bush, said that he is comfortable with Romney ending the program while he finds a long-term fix. The Florida senator had been working on a legislative proposal that was similar to deferred action when Obama announced the program.

"What I'm really comfortable with is that [Romney] says he wants to find a permanent solution and, in fact, has now openly begun to talk about the idea that we were working on," Rubio said at a Bloomberg event Tuesday, according to The Huffington Post. "So, not to put words in his mouth, but what I'm fairly confident about is that if Mitt Romney is elected president, we will have a willing partner in the White House to find a solution to this issue along the lines of what we were working on."

Other Republicans and conservatives have called deferred action an abuse of executive power.

Democrats have responded that the president was within his right to enact the program through executive action and that he left with no choice, since Republicans in the Senate had essentially blocked passage of the DREAM Act, which would have granted a special pathway to citizenship.

As of Oct. 10, nearly 4,600 young undocumented immigrants have been approved for deferred action out of 180,000 requests accepted. If an application is approved, the person is granted a two-year reprieve from deportation and the opportunity to apply for a work permit.

Rather than discuss immigration, Bush said that Romney's best chance at wooing more Latinos rests with an inclusive message that is centered on the economy.

"I think it's important for him to continue talk … in more personal terms, with more details, of how he can change the direction of the country," he said. "And give hope that this economic change will benefit everyone, and not just a privileged group."

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