April 7th, 2014
09:09 AM ET
9 years ago

Inside Politics: Jeb Bush says immigration is an "act of love"; Will his party agree?

Jeb Bush’s “act of love” vs. President Obama as “deporter-in-chief”: The Republican Party base has recently shown no love for candidates who talk about the need for compassion in dealing with undocumented immigrants.

In 2012, for instance, Mitt Romney used the issue of immigration to distinguish himself from rivals like Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, who wanted to let the children of undocumented immigrants stay in the country.

So it was a bit jarring over the weekend to hear Jeb Bush say that coming to the country illegally shouldn’t really be viewed as a felony.

"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," Bush told Fox News host Shannon Bream at town hall event at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center.

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"I honestly think that is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families," the former Florida governor said. "I think we need to kind of get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place."

Related: Jeb Bush says illegal immigration is often an “act of love”

Bush isn’t the GOP’s only possible 2016 candidate taking a softer tone on immigration. Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who has a libertarian streak, has talked about the need to broaden the party’s appeal and take a softer tone on immigration.

“We’ve got to get beyond deportation to get to the rest of the issues,” Paul said in Washington last week. “The bottom line is that the Hispanic community, the Latino community, is not going to hear us until we get beyond that issue. They’re not going to care whether we go to the same church or have the same values or believe in the same kind of future of the country until we get beyond that.”

Related: Rand Paul: GOP needs to “get beyond” deportation

Republican efforts to soften their image on immigration come as Democrats also face difficulty on the issue. Although the party has overwhelmingly won the Hispanic vote in recent elections and supports comprehensive immigration reform paired with a pathway to citizenship, it also controls the executive branch of government.

The Obama presidency has seen a dramatic growth in the number of deportations, and Latino rights groups like National Council of La Raza have dubbed President Obama “deporter-in-chief.”

A New York Times analysis published Monday shows two thirds of the 2 million deportations under President Obama involved not violent criminals, but “people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.”

But it is unclear how Republicans can capitalize politically on Latino frustration with Obama and Democrats as long as the official party line opposes a comprehensive immigration reform plan.

Bush is often called one of his party’s big thinkers and policy leaders, the party’s conscience. He has warned Republicans that they must be more inclusive and more willing to compromise with Democrats to get things done.

“We need to elect candidates who have a vision that is bigger and broader and candidates that are organized around winning the election, not making points,” Bush said Sunday.

What he said about immigration falls in line with that goal. But it seems to go against what Bush said about a year ago, when he undercut his political mentee Marco Rubio’s bipartisan immigration proposal. Rubio had just joined the proposal, which included a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented, at great political risk to himself.

Just about the same time, Bush, who had long supported a pathway to citizenship, changed his mind and published a book on how to reform the immigration system. He wrote that he was going to support only special legal status for the undocumented, not a pathway to citizenship.

Rubio’s proposal ultimately passed the Senate. But it didn’t make things any easier. The entire process showed Rubio to be capable of getting a big bipartisan bill through the Senate, but it also showed that he was ahead of the rest of his party on the issue of immigration. Rubio’s political star was badly battered, his 2016 buzz was largely snuffed, and the bill that he worked so hard to get through the Democrat-controlled Senate has gone nowhere in the Republican-controlled House.

It will be particularly interesting to chart the growth of Republican candidates as the 2016 race progresses from conjecture to reality.

Washington wage war: President Obama plans to sign two executive orders this week to help ensure “paycheck fairness” for women.

The president’s move coincides with a larger political and policy pitch Democrats are making as they move into a difficult midterm election atmosphere in which they hope women will get out and vote for them. Tuesday is also Fair Pay Day.

A White House official told CNN’s Jim Acosta that the president’s executive actions will focus on "pay secrecy," the idea that women who are paid less than their male counterparts may not know it because they don't know what other employees are making.

Democrats have returned to issues of wage equality repeatedly since the 2008 presidential campaign. The first law Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which responded to a controversial Supreme Court ruling and changed the statute of limitations to bring a sexual discrimination lawsuit.

Democrats in the Senate, meantime, plan a vote this week on a separate paycheck fairness measure. It would foster more transparency so that instances of paycheck inequality could be more easily identified.

The executive orders will make a similar requirement, but only for federal contractors.

Related: White House to stress equal pay in policy, political push

Filed under: Inside Politics • Jeb Bush • President Obama • Uncategorized
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    The GOP really does not want a conscience: it gets in the way of business

    April 7, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    If President Obama didn't deport as many people as he did, republicans would say that he's not enforcing our laws. They're saying that regardless, so it's a lose-lose situation either way you look at it. Jeb on the other hand sounds like he's got some sense. But having sense in today's GOTP will not get you the nomination.

    April 7, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    No. Republicans do NOT agree, with his sentiments. Illegals are basically leeches on America, who simply come here to take advantage.

    April 7, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  4. Chris-E...al

    We should deport Jeb Bush if he dont follow the U.S. laws ! P.S. All americans can get a voter I.D. by nov if they wish .

    April 7, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  5. steam roller

    I won't vote for him or lobby on his behalf but I'll give him credit. We know what his intentions are, he will open the flood gates and eliminate all borders around this great country of ours.

    April 7, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. Bessy

    It's called " sucking up " to gain " brownie points " with the illegals and the Democrats. Just another political ploy to try to win an election. Jeez!!!! These politicians make me sick.

    April 7, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. Tampa Tim

    Chris – Just suppose that my 90 year old mother does not have a driver's license, an acceptable birth certificate, an NRA card, no student ID, cannot get to a drivers license facility, and does not have the $5 poll tax to get one. She should be allowed to vote, shouldn't she?

    April 7, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. Michael MN

    The problem is he will have to pander to the extreem whack jobs of the GOP to get the nomination and anything he says to apease them will be come political fodder for who ever is running against him – Just like Rommnys words back fired on him

    April 7, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  9. Gurgyl

    Why not they dump more h1-b, l-1 visas, illegals here. Do these guys know they come here to rob the benefits, not out of love to USA. Very bad. These guys don't care the nation. Pathetic. Look, BCBS of NC, illegals. Cary is turning to be illegal curry. CNN please put all comments.

    April 7, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  10. Peace

    Oh! Jeb, cheat them all (immigrants) in order to grab their votes. What about feeding those who are hungry and have no means to get something to put in their stomachs? Is that not the sign of love? This man is not going to cheat anyone, anymore. The 2000 election debacles of Florida, Florida, Florida can't be forgotten and forgiven.

    April 7, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. Chris-E...al

    TIM @ I bet respectfully if a 90yr old had never cast a vote they probably dont want to ? And everbody should have I.D. the police will take you in or hold you til they i.d. you . !

    April 7, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  12. Hector Slagg

    The American people, by and large are not going to grant Amnesty. In fact they won't even grant a guest worker program. So the undocumneted will just have to flounder under the radar, so to speak. If they refuse to become citizens like millions of others do legally they will be living in dior straits the rest of their lives either here or in their own country.

    April 7, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. Anthony

    Jeb Bush will not seek his party's nomination in 2016. He knows that the Republican Party in its present state will not beat Hillary in 2016. That is why he said this. After 2016, his party might finally get the message that it needs Latino voters. Then he might have a chance down the road.

    April 7, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. Jose79845

    Jeb Bush's war on marijuana users is an "act of hatred." With 10,000 pro-marijuana youth reaching voting age every day and 5,000 calcified marijuana prohibitionists dying every day, the loss will be bigger than Romney's "fight marijuana legalization tooth and nail." Marijuana prohibition will be the litmus test for big nanny state government, a position that the GOP falsely claims to hold.

    April 7, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    His brother set the stage for the entire country to circle the drain. We don't need another dose of Bush stupidity, to make sure the job get's finished. GO AWAY.

    April 7, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. Sniffit

    "Will his party agree?"


    Next question.

    Oh, and CNN, no, it did no require two articles about him saying this. Frankly, it didn't even require one, but that's ok...we understand just how desperately you're searching for the GOPer/Teatroll who can manage to give you your horse race narrative in 2016. Maybe he or she got sucked up by a black hole?

    April 7, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. smith

    whatever works to get the votes.

    April 7, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. Rusty Krus

    Ahh, The kinder, gentler Bush. Jeb must be thinking about 2016.

    April 7, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    Why should the GOP listen to him? He represents a past they have rejected, one of thoughtful policy, and they have embraced people who feel that a slogan is what a law should be in its entirety ( when they bother to pass any), and who feel that if you are not rich it is your duty to subsidize and protect those who already are, even at the expense of every opportunity the society used to allow.

    April 7, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |