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. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    "To be young and dynamic again we have to be young and dynamic again."
    That sounds like something a Bush to say. Whoever said we were young and dynamic to begin with? Jeb, you're preaching to the choir. Your party has gone off the deep end. A compassionate conservative is some myth Karl Rove told your brother to run on. They don't actually exist. I tell you what though Jeb, we will be young and dynamic once all of you old farts die off. Conservatism is about keeping things the way the are while progressivism is about moving FORWARD. Clearly the country is moving FORWARD on all of the issues that MY generation(Generation X) are pursuing from marijuana, same sex, student loan and healthcare reform, etc. #NoCountryForOldMen

    April 11, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. kurt

    The immigration stance would help Jeb in a general electionf or President. But to get nominated he'll have to harden his immigration stance (like Romney did). And once that's done, he can't swap back in time to have any chance with the latino voting block.

    April 11, 2014 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    "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."
    Ole Jeb's leap in logic was a tad bit too far for most conservatives. Yes, it is true, too. It is not a felony.

    April 11, 2014 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  4. Dean

    Immigration reform begins with border security. The next step is deportation. Then begin to let only those who qualify back in.

    April 11, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Critcisms of Jeb Bush show how difficult it is for the Republican Tea Party to reinvent itself.

    April 11, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  6. veep

    From what Party are the loudest anti-immigration noises coming from?

    & which Party is assisting in the hiring of the same illegals?

    wow! it's the exact same Party.

    "an act of love"


    April 11, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  7. Bill Davis

    Just another thing to hide behind,

    Guess that is called bushwhacked, We do not need any more Bush Twisters.,,

    April 11, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  8. Bubba Ray

    Good old Jeb just ain't yahoo enough for the yahoos.

    April 11, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  9. Shorty

    If we tried to immigrate too and live in some of those countries we would be attacked or killed. And by some of the very people who want to come here. If they can't contribute AND pay their way, we don't want them.

    April 11, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  10. veep

    To get Illegal Immigration to stop, you have to stop the incentives.
    You have to enforce laws with the EMPLOYERS.
    & the GOP does NOT want that either;
    The ILLEGALS are helping to undermine US Labor markets and Unions.

    Win/Win for the GOP and Lose/Lose for the rest America.
    All while hiding behind Jesus.

    April 11, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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
    Here we go...
    He's not being made to backpedal his remarks, but he's being cautious in not repeating them in front of an audience.
    It has begun...

    April 11, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  12. PR

    If they came here illegally they broke the law. Ship them home, close the borders and say no more. We don't need any more Hispanics in this country. They are vermin who only bring in diereses, crime and a lower standard of living.

    April 11, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  13. Mark

    "Only Nixon could go to China", 2014 version

    April 11, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  14. scooterdie

    Finally a Bush who says something I can agree with. Never thought I'd see the day.

    April 11, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    We will soon be witnessing the re-invention of Jeb Bush ifhe decides to throw his clown shoes into the ring along with the other GOPer clown considering taking a swipe at 2016.

    April 11, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. HillClimber

    Want an "act of love"? Get the aliens off my land! Want "comprehensive immigration reform"? Make sure the definition of the phrase includes as its primary purpose the mass deportation of illegal aliens. For some reason, politicians of all ilks seem to believe that there is a treasure trove of new votes to be found by failing to enforce our laws, all the while ignoring the basic aspects of the problem: the United States has had an alien invasion force enter onto its land no one is doing anything to repel them. The Citizens of the United States demand the complete removal of illegal aliens!

    April 11, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. Woody's Hay

    GOP has a problem. They want to "deport the cheap labor", which will drive up the cost of labor, because then all their supporters would have to hire U.S. citizens again.

    Which president was it that wanted the Mexicans to be able to come into the country (as "guest workers") deeper than ever? Oh, wait, what number comes between 42 and 44? Jeb has an older brother??? Who knew?

    April 11, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. Rob

    That's no different than say the guy who held up a convience store did it out of love for his family so he shouldn't be punished. They ARE criminals and felons. If they truely loved their family, then come here legally and earn your way. If they came here illegally, they have broken our laws and show no respect for what is supposed to be our laws. Arrest and Deport them. As for Jeb Bush. He can stsay in Fla and fish but he has no business in the White House exceppt for a public tour. Oh Yeah, Forghot, Obama wants to do away with those agin too. I guess it's his house now and not ours

    April 11, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. David

    Sounds like Jeb Bush is running for the White House along with Hillary Clinton. "Why do I get this feeling we are doomed?"

    April 11, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. Dan

    Many immigrants are here just as he said, to make a better life for their families. We have some simple issues in that we can't take everyone, but he's right, immigration has is positive aspects as well. We need to better control our borders for what would be a long term benefit all around, to the US and new immigrants.

    The other issue is what to do with those already here. So far all the "paths" to citizenship that have been proposed are unrealistic. Deporting them all and having some sort of difficult extended system of letting them back in is just a waste of the US and the immigrants resources. Making them pay some huge fees to stay here and start on citizenship is another impossible goal. For those that are here and successfully maintaining a job or business, give them a green card and allow them to apply for citizenship. They are already being good citizens in all but name.

    April 11, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. tom l

    "Ole Jeb's leap in logic was a tad bit too far for most conservatives. Yes, it is true, too. It is not a felony."

    But it IS a felony right now. I totally understand why they come here. I would do the same thing if I were in their shoes. I don't believe we should deport all of them. I think there's a pretty simple solution. We make all people who are illegally here register and they have 6 months to do that. If they have not broken any laws, other than the crime of being here illegally, then they should be allowed to stay. If they don't sign up within the allotted time and we find them then they should be sent back. I honestly think there should be some sort of penalty for them (not monetary) and that is something that can be worked out. We also need to build a true fence to stop more from coming in. But that doesn't change the fact that it's a felony no matter what you say.

    April 11, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  22. Miami Mike

    US Code 8, Section 1325

    Politicians and public officials not upholding the law is treason.

    April 11, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. Lou

    I was hoping than Mr. Bush came to solved the problem, not to be part of it. The act of love when commited a crime is not an act of love, is a violation of the law that needs to punished. If I disobey the law I can go to jail, then why this people cannot go to jail. Why we have to give them a reward for what they did? Immigration is not a problem, illigal immigration is a problem. Secure the bordel, enforce te law and obey.

    April 11, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. Kenman

    I am a Conservative, and we do NOT need any more Bushes or Clintons as President; the Presidency for the last 20 out of 25 years came from these two families! America has more talent to offer!

    And, no, I don't agree with him. No such crime against America, her own culture, her laws, her sovereignty, her security, her social safety net, her conviction to her law-abiding CITIZENS, should be minimized as someone's "act of love"!

    If I love MY family, can I break into YOUR house, steal from your family, demand that YOU educate me and include me in your family's inheritance? ANY crime can be twisted to be an "act of love" if it gains the assailant something that they MIGHT share with their family! This is outrageous and irresponsible in the highest regard, and with the least regard for our OWN nation!

    April 11, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. JJR

    Not an act of love but an act of invasion into a foreign country that has no immigration enforcement.

    April 11, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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