Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he supports both a path to citizenship or legal residency for the more than 11 million people living in the United States illegally.
"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 residency of some kind," he said during an interview last week with Charlie Rose on CBS.
Bush's position diverges from that of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who oppposes amnesty, supports the use of e-verify to stop businesses from hiring illegal immigrants, and has promised to build a "high-tech" fence to help secure the border.
Bush said he agreed with Romney on the need to secure the border and the importance of raising the number of work visas available for high-skilled workers. But he warns that the tone of the immigration debate among Republicans is "shortsighted."
"It sends a signal," Bush said. "We want your support, but you can't join our team."
There needs to be a realistic way of dealing with people who are here illegally, he said.
Bush said that Congress was "stuck" on immigration because of failings within both parties.
The Obama administration did nothing to fix immigration during the president's first term for political reasons, according to Bush.
"They want this as a wedge political issue," he said. "On the other hand, Republicans, legitimately concerned about the lack rule of law, have not allowed the debate to get beyond that."
Bush also said that Romney should choose Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to be his running mate.
Rubio is the "most articulate conservative official on the scene today" who would "lift the spirits of the campaign," Bush said.
Rubio recently made news by discussing an alternative to the Dream Act that would allow undocumented young people brought to the country as children to stay here legally if they were accepted to a four-year college or join the military. The legislation, which has not yet been officially unveiled, stops short of offering the young people a path to citizenship.