Looking to build on a recent glimmer of momentum in early-state polls, Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal has spent this week on a media tour in New York attacking rival Jeb Bush for supporting "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants, and calling for a crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities."
But in a recent interview with BuzzFeed News, the Louisiana governor defended his own immigration position, which does not perfectly align with conservative orthodoxy.
In a National Review op-ed 2013, Jindal wrote, "As for a pathway to citizenship: For folks who came here illegally but are willing to gain proficiency in English, pay a fine, and demonstrate a willingness to assimilate, we should require them to work here and pay taxes for a substantial period of time after obtaining legal status before they have the opportunity to begin the process of applying for U.S. citizenship."
Asked how this support for a pathway to citizenship differs from the "amnesty" he accuses Bush of supporting, Jindal said of the op-ed, "We did that in the context of the Gang of Eight bill [in the Senate]. We were trying to rally conservatives to stop that bad bill, and they did, to their credit."
Pointing to Bush's recent comments in a Spanish-language Telemundo interview, Jindal said, "To me what was so troubling was he's talking about giving amnesty to folks who have been here illegally."
Jindal said he opposes any comprehensive approach to overhauling the immigration system, and that the federal government must first secure the country's southern border.
Once that is done, however, Jindal said, "We'll be practical and compassionate about the people already here."
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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