Bush wants legal status for illegal immigrants
© Greg Nash

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush wants the 11 million immigrants in America illegally to have a pathway to legal status, he told Telemundo Monday in a Spanish-language interview. 

“For The 11 million people [undocumented immigrants in America], they must come out of the shadows, receive a work visa, start paying taxes and also pay a small fine, learn English, don't receive government benefits, but they come out of the shadows and they receive legal status after some time,” he said in the interview. Excerpts of the interview aired Monday, while the rest will show on Sunday.

Bush promised that he would prioritize immigration reform if elected and panned President Obama for failing to do so when he had a super majority in Congress.

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“He likes to talk about this as a political topic, because it wins votes. He thinks that way instead of solving the problem,” Bush said. 

“I believe that a new president that’s committed to protect the border and to do everything that’s needed, so that there is more trust, that the laws can be complied with.”

He also criticized presidential rival Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE’s recent comments on Mexican immigrants as “vulgar,” arguing that he has been counterproductive and shedding doubt on his status as the current polling frontrunner.

 "I was hurt, hearing somebody speaking in such a vulgar fashion. This makes the solving of this problem much more difficult when we have politicians talking like that,” he said.

“And besides, that this offends millions of people that are here legally. It makes no sense. In a political sense, it’s bad. But it creates an environment where we can resolve the problem it makes it worse.”

Bush has received flack from his rivals over his more moderate stance on immigration reform. He previously supported a pathway to citizenship and backed the Senate's 2013 immigration plan, also backed by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China DeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk MORE (R-Fla.), which included that plan.  But he has since walked back that and supports legal status for immigrants in America illegally.

He doesn't share that view with the majority of Republican voters. Sixty-three percent of Republican registered voters want the country's immigration priority to be stopping illegal immigration and deporting those already in the country, according to a recent CNN/ORC poll. Just 34 percent of Republicans want that priority to be granting legal status to those in the country illegally.