Jeb Bush says illegal immigration not a felony but an ‘act of love’

WASHINGTON – Republican Jeb Bush knew that calling illegal immigration an “act of love” was going to light up the political world even before he made the unorthodox comment, and then he did it anyway.

The former Florida governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential contender served up a tough-love message to his party, which has tried but largely failed to soften its often rough tone against immigrants.

“We need to get beyond the harsh rhetoric to a better place,” he said over the weekend during a 25th anniversary celebration of his father’s presidency at the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum in Texas.

“I’m going to say this and it’s going to be on tape, and so be it,” he said, before launching into a defense of those who cross borders illegally – often “a dad who was worried their children didn’t have food on the table.”

“Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony,” he went on. “It’s an act of love, an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that is a different kind of crime.”

Bush’s comments come as action on an immigration overhaul has ground to a halt in Congress, even as protesters held a vigil and fast Monday on the National Mall.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has shown no interest in taking up a bipartisan Senate-passed bill, and efforts by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to draft an alternative measure to help younger illegal immigrants have all but fizzled.

Republican party elders have urged congressional leaders to pass an immigration overhaul because the issue is important to Latino voters, who have fled the GOP in the years since the last Bush was in office.

Last week, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., refused to add a measure – sponsored by other Republicans to help veterans obtain green cards – to a must-pass defense bill.

Bush, whose political family has long tried to lead the party on immigration issues, said he thought the Senate bill was a “good effort” and that a reform of immigration laws was needed to help bring immigrants into the U.S. economy.

“They could contribute to our country if we actually organized it in a better way,” he said.

More in Local News

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Most Read