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Jeb Bush on immigration minefield: "a lot of hair on fire right now. Mine isn’t.”


Immigration is a minefield.

Jeb Bush stepped in it.

Bush’s new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, exploded on the political scene last week and left the former Florida governor uncharacteristically wobbly over how to legalize the status of the undocumented.

The controversy — and perhaps the book itself — summed up the politics of immigration: laden with political peril, nuance, seeming contradiction and complexity.

The book is also a point of departure for Bush’s political aspirations. He’s neither ruling out nor in a White House bid in 2016.

That invites more political scrutiny than Bush says he realized.

“If I made a mistake, I didn’t assume that everything would be viewed through a political lens,” Bush told The Miami Herald. “In Washington, it seems, everybody assumes there’s a political motivation to everything. And not understanding that, I accept responsibility for it.”

“Is it a big deal? No,” he said.

But this is a big deal.

On Sunday, Bush is scheduled to appear on every major news program. He began the week on the Today Show, then traveled from New York to California, stopping at the Reagan National Library on Friday.

Authors of most books — especially policy topics like immigration — usually don’t get that sort of wall-to-wall media exposure. If Bush’s coauthor, lawyer Clint Bolick, wrote this alone, it probably wouldn’t make the news.

Bush said they wrote Immigration Wars last year to spur action.

By the time it was printed, however, the debate was well under way in Washington. There, Bush protégé and neighbor, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of West Miami, plays a leading role among a bipartisan group of eight senators hammering out an immigration bill.

Still, Immigration Wars is a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about the mind of one of the GOP’s top idea men. Its roughly 250 pages move at a surprisingly quick pace.

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