(CNSNews.com) – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, said that immigrants to America “are more fertile,” have “more intact families,” and "are the engine of economic prosperity” that could improve the U.S. economy and help the government to cover the rising cost of entitlements.
“We’re going to have fewer workers taking care of a larger number of people that the country has a social contract with to be able to allow them to retire with dignity and purpose,” Bush said during a speech at the “Road to Majority” conference in Washington, D.C. on Friday, sponsored by the Faith & Freedom Coalition. “We cannot do that with the fertility rates that we have in our country. We are below break-even today.”
"Now, part of that is the pessimism in our country but part of it is the changing social mores that exist," he said.
Further into his talk, Bush said. “Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans over the last 20 years. Immigrants are more fertile and they love families and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population -- immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.”
Concerning the ongoing debate in Congress over immigration reform, Bush said, “The one way we can rebuild the demographic pyramid is to fix a broken immigration system to allow for people to come, to learning English, to play by our rules, to embrace our values and to pursue their dreams in our country with a vengeance to create more opportunities for all of us.”
“This is a conservative idea and, if we do this, we will rebuild our country in a way that will allow us to grow,” he said. “If we don’t do it, if we don't do it, we will be in decline.”
Bush, the brother of President George W. Bush and son of President George H.W. Bush, , is widely viewed as a potential GOP presidential candidate for 2016. Bush received a standing, though somewhat tepid, ovation from the crowd at Friday’s conference.
The Republican Party is divided over the immigration issue. Bush has been a longtime proponent of giving legal status to illegal aliens.
In addition to his comments about fertility and family among immigrants, Bush said the country needs to protect the borders, which he believed the Gang of Eight immigration legislation in the Senate would accomplish.
“We need to move to an economically driven system,” Bush said. “Right now, family unification is the means by which immigrants come -- 75 percent of all immigrants come petitioned by a family member. Wouldn’t it be better if we narrowed that definition down to what every other country has, spouse and minor children? And then expand the number of immigrants that come to work hard in our fields, to work in stem-related areas, to work across the spectrum in our economy.”
He cited Canada as an example for the United States to follow on immigration and economic growth.
“Canada is a place we might want to look to,” Bush said. “They have more economic immigrants and they have seen sustained economic growth because of it. We should expand H1 Visas. We should create a guest worker program. We should deal with the millions of people that are here illegally, to give them a path to legal status.”
“But they should pay a fine,” he said. “They should learn English. They should not receive any federal welfare payments. And they should not violate laws during an extended period of time. In doing so, if we have the right enforcement, we will create sustained economic growth.”