Speaking to the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition conference on June 14, Jeb Bush advocated for the benefits of immigration, saying that “Demography is destiny,” in reference to immigrants arriving in the United States and the opportunities and challenges they pose for the Republican Party.
“Demography is destiny,” said the former governor of Florida. “Ten years from now we will all hopefully be 10 years older. That's my plan and I hope it is yours as well. If that's the case, then we are going to have fewer workers taking care of a larger number of people that the government has a social contract with. “ He added, “We cannot do that with the fertility rates we have in our country,” he added. 'We are barely breaking even.”
Bush told the conferees assembled in Washington DC, that said the U.S. must allow more immigrants “to pursue their dreams in our country with a vengeance to create more opportunities for all of us.” He also told the Evangelical Christian activists at the conference, “If we don't do it, we will be in decline.”
Jeb Bush is the son and brother of two former presidents, and is considered to be a contender for the 2016 Republican nomination. Other contenders include Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Conservatives appear to oppose legislation that would grant so-called 'amnesty' to millions of illegal immigrants. President George W. Bush advocated comprehensive immigration reform that would have allowed guest-worker status to millions of illegal aliens, and it was conservative Republicans and pro-labor Democrats who prevented passage of the bill. Conservatives' ire focused on contentions that the bill would provide amnesty to some 12 million illegal immigrants, largely from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America.
Jeb Bush has advocated a path to legalization that would require illegal immigrants to pay a fine and demonstrate proficiency in English. In Bush’s scheme, these immigrants would be barred from receiving welfare benefits.
Bush explained that a growing population of young people could help fund the federal government’s Social Security fund, which is vital to baby boom retirees. Alluding to data that shows that immigrant women bear more children than U.S.-born women, he said, “Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population.” He added, “Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.”
Immigrants, on average, do have more children than the American-born. Data for 2011 from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the fertility rate for foreign-born women is 87.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44, as compared to the rate of 58.9 births per 1,000 American-born women in the same age group.
On June 13, Bush had a closed-door meeting on immigration reform with Republicans of the House of Representatives. Following the meeting, Bush told the media, “The House Republicans have a really critical role to play in this,” adding, “I talked about the possibility of reframing the conversation about how economic growth matters to everybody and everybody benefits from it.”