April 11th, 2014
08:49 AM ET
9 years ago

Jeb Bush defends immigration remarks

(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."

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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

Filed under: 2016 • Connecticut • Immigration • Jeb Bush
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Unless you're a Native American or black, everyone in this country came from illegal immigration. The natives didn't invite them to come and take over their country. And our ancestors didn't come here of their own volition. Why is everyone complaining about the hard working Mexicans but have no problem with the Middle Easterners that come here by the boatload, get on welfare and then proceed to give birth every 9 months? Talk about anchor babies....

    April 11, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. will S

    Not all immigrants come here for love. For a better life yes, but I would say a large number come to the U.S. for the free/easy money(welfare, etc). Start cutting back on those programs, enforce the laws in place for the comapanies who hire immigrants for well below the minimum wage, and/or put stricter rules in place for being able to receive welfare/unemployment, etc. Severely restrict the free/easy life, then we'll see how many immigrants truly want to come to the U.S. for a "better life." Lastly, i personally dont have any problem with immigrants wanting a better life in the U.S. But i draw the line at having to change our culture, etc to "make the immigrants feel comfortable and accepted." If you want to be a citizen of the U.S. then you need to adhere to the culture this country was built upon. I.E. the pledge of allegiance should be for ALL U.S. citizens to speak, you WILL respect the U.S. flag and the U.S. national anthem and God is a part of our lives/schools, govt, etc. Accept it! If immigrants want to honor/remember their born culture, etc that's great, but they need to remember that their loyalty MUST lie with their new citizenship!

    April 11, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. rs


    Jeb Bush is setting up for his run or testing the waters. Jeb knows he needs the hispanic vote and the independents to swing to his side. He`s playing a good game of chess as of now.
    Indeed. It will be interesting to see if anyone else from the GOP side of the aisle picks up on it. I'm betting their ideology won't let them, but a few successful polls might cause a cause a groundswell towards sanity again.

    April 11, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Jeb Bush is setting up for his run or testing the waters. Jeb knows he needs the hispanic vote and the independents to swing to his side. He`s playing a good game of chess as of now.
    I agree with you smith.
    I will add, however,that it doesn't bode well to already have him tampering down his previous stances on immigration this early in the game.
    It indicates to me a willingness to sell-out in order to play ball.
    That will not differentiate him from the rest of the clowns in the car.
    He certainly won't get the Hispanic vote if he continues down this path of not daring to repeat what he's already said.

    April 11, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. Peter Gerdeman

    Interesting he chooses to explain this. Let him getting the WH and Congress to intervene on Terri Shiavo case. Thought Republicans didn't want Government intervention. What a hypocrite. He gets into office, and he'll try to start another war based on lies – like GWB did in Iraq. All the slamming Republicans have done on Democrats and they have never accepted responsibility for that. No more Bushes in the WH – no more Republicans for any office!

    April 11, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Tammy

    While recently in the ER with my husband, a Mexican male was brought in via ambulance after being injured in an auto accident. He was an illegal without insurance (on his vehicle or himself), and was at fault for the accident. The other driver was a US citizen with both vehicle insurance and health insurance. Who do you think will pay for this accident? Happens all the time in Oklahoma. The illegal will be treated for his injuries and the US citizen's insurance will have to pay for the accident. Is there a solution to this problem?

    April 11, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. Smeagel4T

    Attended a speech given by Jed just the other week. He was practicing his stump speech. Amazing how much he relies upon people to not connect the dots of what he says.

    He plays to the audience by claiming he wants to get rid of "bad" teachers. The usual prattle. Sure, everyone supports getting rid of "bad" teachers, but of course he doesn't say how he'd identify "bad" in a fair and objective manner. Most intelligent people recognize that teaching young human beings isn't like affixing some part to a product on an assembly line, nor should it be.

    Then he says he wants to reward "good" teachers by paying them a whole lot more. Another stump speech platitude. Sounds good, right? So what did he ACTUALLY just say he wants to do. He wants to eliminate "bad" teachers and replace them with much higher paid "good" teachers. So he just caused education budgets to skyrocket, but nobody was supposed to go beyond his stump speech platitudes and notice that part.

    Or... he was lying about wanting to pay "good" teachers more...

    April 11, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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