(CNN) - Jeb Bush is standing by recent comments on immigration reform that sparked a controversy among some conservatives.
At a speech Thursday night the former two-term Florida governor and possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate said that his words were nothing new, and made another pitch for reform saying that "comprehensive immigration reform is part of the answer."
Last weekend, at a gathering at his father's presidential library in Texas, Bush said that people who come to the United States illegally are often looking for opportunities to provide for their families that are not available in their home countries, adding "Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love, it's an act of commitment to your family."
The "act of love comments" received some major push back from conservatives, many of whom are opposed to comprehensive immigration reform.
At an address Thursday at a major Connecticut Republican Party dinner named after his late grandfather Sen. Prescott Bush, Bush didn't repeat his comments, but discussed them.
"This last week, I made some statements about immigration reform (that) apparently generated a little more news than I anticipated," said Bush, adding "You know I've been saying the for the past three or four years. I said the exact same thing that I've said regularly."
Bush went on to say that "the simple fact is, there is no conflict between enforcing our laws, believing in the rule of law and having some sensitivity to the immigrant experience, which is part of who we are as a country."
And Bush tied immigration reform to efforts to improve the economy: "To be young and dynamic again we have to be young and dynamic again. And that means we should consider immigration reform not as a problem but as a huge opportunity for us to create an economic strategy around immigration.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report