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. Rudy NYC

    Dean wrote:

    Immigration reform begins with border security. The next step is deportation. Then begin to let only those who qualify back in.
    Allow me to point out to you some facts:

    1. Most of the illegal immigrants in this country entered the country legally and overstayed their documents.
    2. Not every illegal immigrant in this country is of Mexican descent and snuck across the southern border.
    3. Most of the illegal immigrants in question have been in this country for years and years, if not decades.

    Deportations. That's laughable on the face of it. It would cost billions and billions upon billions of dollars. There are other complicating factors, too. You cannot make the assumption that every illegal immigrant is from Mexico, and simply dump ten of thousands of people across the border.

    Many of the illegal immigrants from South and Central America are coming from extremely rural areas, which means that it is highly likely that there is NO RECORD of their birth. In other words, their true country of origin could truthfully tell you that they have never heard of the person, that they have no record of such a person, and they would refuse to accept the deportee.

    April 11, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  2. Moderate2016

    I get it, there are lots of them and many have been here a long time, but successfully avoiding the law should not be a "defense" that qualifies you for amnesty. This isn't Obama's fault, administration after administration, GOP and Dem, have dropped the ball and failed to enforce immigration laws. Border patrol is too spotty and can't do it alone. There should have always been MASSIVE penalties for hiring illegals. Put the burden on the people that employ anyone to ensure they are legal and put employers that knowingly hire illegals in jail, destroy their businesses. Hire an illegal nanny and pay her cash – jail. That would have stopped people coming here illegal faster than anything else.

    April 11, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. Buckn

    LEGAL immigration reform – YES.
    Making ILLEGALS become legal, just because you don't want to deal with them – NO!
    It's two seperate issues.
    I would not expect Canada to just start taking care of me, should i decide to illegally take up residence there. I find it ridiculous to think that it could be condoned for foreigners to come here and taxpayers to just start taking care of them.
    These people are law-breakers by any interpretation of international and national law and should be dealt with as such.

    That said, if our laws governing LEGAL immigration need to be looked at and updated, then by all means, lets take a look at them and make NEEDED repairs.

    April 11, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  4. RF1958

    Perform the ultimate act of love, Don't run in 2016!

    April 11, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. Jay

    Comprehensive immigration reform doubles legal immigration, grants amnesty to an estimated 11 million (somehow it's always 11 million even though more illegal immigrants come in every day), and promises enforcement (promises that are worthless given the president can just ignore them like he ignores immigration laws now). This is what happened in 1986.

    Even without this massive immigration increse, we have the highest percentage of non-native people in history. We are on track to exceed 1 BILLION people before the end of the century. We have very high unemployment, especially among less educated and also among minorities.

    But still Jeb Bush says we need MORE, MORE, MORE. Why? It's all about keeping wages low for businesses and the wealthy. Why do Democrats keep falling for this?

    April 11, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  6. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Hasn't threw the hat in the ring yet, and already on the defensive. Where are the leaders of yesteryear?

    April 11, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. bdby

    It just shows his arrogance towards Middle Class America. He has the atttitude "I know what is best for America" and don't argue with me. This is the type of individual that Americans DON'T NEED to lead us as a nation. Our leader is suppose to put AMERICANS concerns first, not foreign nation expatriots.

    He is done as a presidential candidate.

    April 11, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  8. Lolo

    The politicians do not want to stop it. They love paying for cheap labor. They would rather do that then help the American people. If they wanted to stop it, would have been a done deal a long time ago. I am so sick of the lies, especially from the GOP/TP Klan.

    April 11, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. ems1008

    So according to Bush if you break the laws of the United States and it's for love then it's okay and a get out of jail free card. And here I thought his parents taught him ethics. I know one man I'll never vote for.

    April 11, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. rs

    The universal "third-rail" that was fatal to politicians' campaigns used to be Social Security- no one could mess with that. Probably now, at least for the GOP there area host of things "thou shalt not" mention, and immigration reform has slipped from being possible just a year ago into the litmus test of ever Rightward shifting "conservatism".

    Bush (like Romney of the last election) likely would not have been the successful Presidential candidate- simply because they can't wear the radical's clothes very well-it simply isn't in their nature. Well, that and now Mr. Bush just got electrocuted by saying something sane about immigration and immigrants. Too bad, the GOP will die in it's lust for hard-core Rightist purity. No one will miss it.

    April 11, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Silence DoGood

    It is enlightening that any discussion of Love, agree or disagree, is met with strong opposition from parties that espouses the moral high ground and traditional Christian and family values.
    Luke 6:44
    "Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers."

    April 11, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. Tony

    The only act of love I see is Bush for big money from the chamber of commerce . These people don't care about the America any longer.. its all about them and their friends in big business..

    April 11, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. ems1008

    So it's okay to break the laws of the United States as long as it's for love. Gee, Jeb, I was raised differently. You've shown you obviously don't represent U.S. citizens and you obviously have no respect for our laws and can pick and choose which one you obey. Don't bother running for president. I not only won't vote for you, I'd campaign heavily against you.

    April 11, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  14. A Nelson

    Dutch, you sound like an ageist. Each generation of people has great things to offer this country. When you get older, you will understand that.

    April 11, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  15. Another Texan

    I am a Texas conservative and am totally in favor of immigration reform – but not necessarily a path to immediate citizenship for those here illegally. What would address my concerns would be work permits for those currently in the United States, creating documented visitors. Within a specified timeframe, application can be made for citizenship and during that timeframe, adherence to the laws of our country are to be followed and respected. I do not want people here that will change our country into theirs. The theme "Undocumented and Unafraid" is invalid – these people are afraid to live in their homeland. They are as welcome in ours as they respect it and grow with it.

    April 11, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Hasn't threw the hat in the ring yet, and already on the defensive. Where are the leaders of yesteryear?
    He's preaching to a different type of Republican.
    We call them RWNJ's.
    Times have changed.

    April 11, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. rs


    LEGAL immigration reform – YES.
    Making ILLEGALS become legal, just because you don't want to deal with them – NO!
    It's two seperate issues.
    And that is how the Senate bill treats immigration reform. The radicals in the House however wanted to pass no sweeping reforms, just pieces. Now, they don't want to pass anything at all. Sort of like their "repeal and replace" the ACA just became health care nihilism instead.

    April 11, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. smith

    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.

    April 11, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. JohnRJohnson

    I like Jeb Bush. He's far too smart and reasonable to be a Republican.

    April 11, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. KC Yankee

    I agree with RF1958. I'd rather be dead than have another Bush for president. And I mean that with all my heart.

    April 11, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. Winston Smith

    Jeb, is playing with himself if he believes he has a chance to win. It's not likely. Too many remember the brother.

    April 11, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  22. Whereisthemiddle?

    Uphill battle sir. You are the only candidate that is not towing the party (GOP or Tea Party) line and you are being attacked for it by the very people who would say towing the line is what's wrong with politics now. These are people that can't see the forest for the trees. Like Huntsman, Jeb will not be able to primary against the crazies that will come out of the woodwork with extreme ideas and extreme pockets. Good luck.

    April 11, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Chris-E...al

    Please no bushs no clintons ! No good shoe duckers . No bad shoe duckers .

    April 11, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Ancient Texan

    I have a lot of respect and admiration for Jeb Bush, but if he lived in on of the border states he just might have a different view.....Also, the border needs to be shut down and completely under control with NO illegals getting in before "reform" is even considered. ENFORCE EXISTING LAW!

    April 11, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Why can't people hear how irrational they sound when they blame Pres. Obama for people who have been in this country for years and years, if not decades, before he first took the oath? Yet, some people seem to believe that tens of millions of people suddenly invaded this country after Pres. Obama was sworn in.

    Pres. Obama has nothing to do with the millions of people who cam here under the Reagan administration, and othe previous administrations.. Some of those administrations actually encouraged the waves of immigrants entering the country on permits because they saw them as a cheap labor force that could break labor unions. Those would be Republican administratinos.

    April 11, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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