Washington: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush set the twitter world ablaze as he called for overhauling America's immigration system, saying immigrants were "more fertile" and thus a great benefit to American society.

“Immigrants have created so many businesses than native-born Americans over the last 20 years. Immigrants are more fertile, they love families and they bring a younger population," said Bush.

"Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity," added the younger brother of former President George W. Bush at the annual Faith and Freedom conference in Washington. But the twitterati latched on to his remark on fertility seen as inarticulate reference to immigrants' fertility rates, which data show is higher than native-born Americans.

Americans entering retirement couldn't be sustained by the current size of the workforce, Bush argued. "We're going to have fewer workers taking care of a larger number of people. The country has a social contract to be able to allow them to retire with dignity and purpose. We cannot do that with the fertility rates that we have in our country. We're below break-even today," Bush said

Part of the solution, he said, was encouraging more legal immigration that would add people to the workforce, thereby creating more payroll tax revenue. "The one way that we can rebuild the demographic pyramid is to fix a broken immigration system to allow for people to come and learn English and play by our rules, to embrace our values and to pursue their dreams in our country with a vengeance to create more opportunities for all of us," said Bush.

"This is a conservative idea," he continued. "If we do this we will rebuild our country in a way that will allow us to grow. If we don't do it we will be in decline, since productivity of this country is dependent upon young people who are equipped to work hard.

Bush, unlike many Republicans, has backed a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, provided they pay fines and learn English. Such measures have been staunchly opposed by conservatives, who say allowing people who came to the United States illegally to remain here amounts to amnesty.


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