Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is believed to be someone who would appeal to Latino voters nationally. (William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Jeb Bush will co-chair Republican Hispanic leadership conference

Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has been in the headlines for advocating legalization without a path to citizenship in his new book on immigration reform, will co-chair “Family Reunión,” the Hispanic Leadership Network’s (HLN) third annual Miami Conference in mid-April.  Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez will also chair the bilingual event.

The Hispanic Leadership Network, a center-right organization of mainly moderate Republicans, announced that the event will focus on “lessons learned” when it comes to Latino engagement. The discussions, with leaders who are coming from around the country, will also look at ways to take policy proposals and convert them into legislation.

In a conversation today, Secretary Gutiérrez said people know Jeb Bush has been supportive of immigration reform and has championed Latino issues. “He was writing this book at a very different time, and things have changed very quickly,” says Gutiérrez.  “What he has actually done is solve the amnesty riddle if it comes down to that in Congress, and he has provoked a very good discussion,” he adds. “Congress and the American people will weigh in, but he has performed a great service by introducing the topic and having a national conversation.”

In the book, Governor Bush says that undocumented immigrants should be given a path to legalization but not citizenship.  In an interview with NBC Latino, Governor Bush said this would make a distinction between legal and illegal immigration, and it would also bring conservative support to immigration reform.  Bush subsequently said in interviews he would support a path to citizenship if this is what comes out of Congress.

Gutiérrez, who recently formed a super PAC to encourage pro-immigration reform Republican candidates, says the most important message to be stressed at the “Family Reunión” conference is that “as a party, we cannot allow individuals who are anti-immigration to make statements which are then used as party statements.   We have to make sure immigrants know we love them,” he says.

“Some people put a stain on the party, and we have to counteract that,” adds Gutierrez. “We want to go out to communities and give tutorials on how to start a small business, how to understand the tax code, and how to achieve upward mobility,” he says. “We cannot achieve our prosperity without a robust immigration policy.”

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