Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made some intensely controversial statements about immigration and amnesty at a 2013 conference and related appearances, which got a little attention at the time, including a reference to newcomers being “more fertile” and that children brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents should, of course, have an “accelerated path” to becoming a citizen.
But with the fight over President Obama’s current executive memo-driven amnesty program for millions of illegal aliens and Bush’s current status as a leading possible candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination following Mitt Romney’s decision to remove himself from the competition, they have become fuel on flames.
“It kind of pours gasoline on the fire among conservatives who don’t trust Jeb on immigration,” Texas-based GOP operative Matt Mackowiak told CNN, which reported Wednesday on the comments.
Bush’s remarks came during a conference with the Hispanic Leadership Network nearly two years ago, and at a time when he was answering questions from Univision. He also made related comments at a Faith and Freedom event.
In one video, Bush says, “I’ve never felt the sins of the parents should be ascribed to the children. If your children always have to pay the price for those decisions they make, how fair is that? For people that have no country to go back to … it’s ridiculous to think there shouldn’t be some accelerated path to citizenship.”
See the comments:
And in a published report at the Blaze, dated 2013, he said, “Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans. Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.”
See the comments:
Tuesday’s CNN report said Bush’s immigration remarks were shocking to conservatives.
“As he moves towards a probable presidential run, and the far less friendly terrain of the GOP primary fight, the comments, which were shared with CNN by Democratic tracking firm American Bridge, are certain to deepen already developing headaches for him – on both the left and especially the right, as conservatives react in a mixture of bewilderment and eye-rolling when confronted with some of Bush’s resurfaced lines on immigration,” the report said.
Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told CNN the comments weren’t a change, because the governor “has been extraordinarily clear that we need to address the border crisis by fixing our broken immigration system. Border security is a key and chief component of sustainable and effective immigration reform.”
On Wednesday, the Atlantic openly speculated, “Jeb Bush’s enthusiasm for immigration, even when the immigrants are unskilled, even if they break the law, goes so deep that he even sometimes ventures to suggest that the personal characteristics are to be preferred over those of the native-born. … He seems to think that there is some quality in the immigrants themselves that is more enterprising – more dynamic to use his favorite term – than native-born Americans.
“It is a negative judgment on native-born Americans.”
Bush has even suggested the key to restoring economically troubled Detroit is using immigration to “repopulate” the city.
“It just seems to me that maybe if you open up our doors in a fair way and unleashed the spirit of peoples’ hard work, Detroit could become in really short order, one of the great American cities again,” Bush said.
“Now it would look different, it wouldn’t be Polish … But it would be just as powerful, just as exciting, just as dynamic. And that’s what immigration does and to be fearful of this, it just seems bizarre to me.”
Bush also praised GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake for courage in pursuing the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill, encouraging them to “stay the course.”
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, also took umbrage at Bush’s comments, which seem to give preference to illegal immigrants over native-born American citizens.
“Jeb Bush will try to continue the same nation-destroying, open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens that Obama, Hillary Clinton, and GW Bush all support as well,” Gheen told WND. “He has no regard for the thousands of Americans being slaughtered by illegal aliens each year, nor the millions of Americans that have been losing their jobs and homes due to the illegal immigration invasion of America backed by the BushObama cabal. The astounding fact that Americans may be asked to chose between another Bush and another Clinton makes it clear America is under some form of aristocratic rule that must be thrown off in the interest of preserving our Constitution, our nation, and our people.”
The Mercury News raised further questions, “So which Bush is looking to capture the White House in 2016? The one who, last April, said that crossing the border illegally is not a felony, but ‘an act of love’ – or the ‘passionately pro-rule of law’ guy … described in a New Year’s Day Wall Street Journal op-ed that sought to fortify Bush’s conservative credentials?”
But in early 2014, Politico reported on some of the comments, such as the “act of love,” and how Bush addressed them.
“You know, I’ve been saying this for the last three or four years, I said the exact same thing that I’ve said regularly,” Bush said then. “And 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.”
The report continued with Bush’s words: “It is not an American value to allow people to stay in the shadows.”
Politico in 2013 noted the “changing immigration stances” for Bush “over the past two days.”
And analyst Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News in 2014 that Bush’s stance on immigration was “bizarre.”
CNN’s resurrection of the issue warned that the statements undoubtedly will create obstacles for Bush.
Another comment from Bush circa 2013 was, “It’s not possible in a free country to completely control the border without us losing our freedoms and liberties.”
CNN reported Wednesday Hogan Gidley, a South Carolina Republican operative who’s offered advice to campaigns for Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, said the comments “are definitely not helpful for Mr. Bush.”
David Horowitz of ConservativeReview.com was a little more plain in his reaction.
“This is insane,” he told CNN. “Honestly, I don’t take him seriously, because of these [comments] and because of the Bush name it’s very hard to see him getting anywhere in a primary.”