Jeb Bush: Some illegal immigration an 'act of love'
What's the best way to make yourself irrelevant as a candidate in 2016?
Say something stupid like this:
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said Sunday that many who illegally come to the United States do so out of an "act of love" for their families and should be treated differently than people who illegally cross U.S. borders or overstay visas.
The comments came during an event marking the 25th anniversary of the presidency of George H. W. Bush at the library and museum that bears the name of the Bush patriarch. The event was closed to reporters, but moderated by Fox News anchor Shannone Bream and portions of the event were later broadcast on the Fox News Channel.
Asked about immigration, Bush started by saying that a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate last year made "a good effort" at proposing ways to ensure that people overstaying visas leave the country.
"A great country ought to know where those folks are and politely ask them to leave," he said, adding later that properly targeting people who overstay visas "would restore people's confidence" in the nation's immigration system.
"There are means by which we can control our border better than we have. And there should be penalties for breaking the law," he added. "But the way I look at this -- and I'm going to say this, and it'll be on tape and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families -- the dad who loved their children -- was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. 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. I honestly think that 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 comments clearly set Bush apart from other Republicans, especially some considering runs for president in 2016. Even Bush seemed to acknowledge that his position could cause him political trouble as he mulls whether to run for president.
Just how are we going to separate those who come to the US illegally out of an "act of love" vs. those who come out of an "act of avarice"? It can't be done, of course, which makes Bush's idea a simple pander to Hispanics.
Bush supports the Senate immigration bill, so it's not surprising he should harbor such tender thoughts. The first question that hit me was why should it matter why someone is breaking the law? Stealing a loaf of bread because you're starving is one thing. But coming to America illegally because you love your family? There are probably tens of millions of people around the world who love their families just as much and wish they could sneak across our undefended border too. That's no excuse not to enforce immigration laws and protect the border.
Bush tries to straddle the issue and ends up making a hash of his position. There's no logic to it and it is doubtful that he won any votes because of it, while it is a certainty he upset potential supporters by saying it.
Verdict: Unforced error.