Jeb Bush (Jeb is the acronym for his actual name, John Ellis Bush) rankled the Republican right on Sunday by stating in an interview that illegal immigration has a human face, and may be what he called “an act of love.”
Bush, the two-term former governor of Florida, said “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.” He said people come to the United States illegally to give themselves and their families a chance at a better life than is available to them in Mexico. He said illegal crossing of the border is only undertaken when legal entry isn’t possible. While having illegally entered the country means they have broken the law, he said, that doesn’t mean they are felons.
He said immigration laws need to be changed to better control the border and also to provide means by which immigrants can participate legally in American society if they choose to do so. Anathema to the hard right.
He said immigrants can contribute much to American society, and should be allowed to do so, but assimilation is key to that process. Immigrants should be required to learn English and study American civics — pretty much as they are now.
Bush, the younger brother of former President George W. Bush, brings strong credentials to the immigration-reform table. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Latin American studies from the University of Texas. He taught English in Mexico as part of an exchange program, and while in that country met his future wife, Columba Garnica Gallo. He worked as a banker in Venezuela, and has lived most of his life in Florida, where he was only the second Florida governor to serve two terms.
The Republicans of the right who would like to see all the illegal immigrants sent back to where they came from disagree with Bush, think he’s soft on immigration. But Bush won big among Latinos in both his gubernatorial elections in Florida. And he is certainly no liberal.
Democrats hate and fear him because he whupped ’em so handily in Florida. And they know his attitudes on immigration pull that stool out from under them should they have to face him in a national election.
Does he plan to run for president? He hasn’t said. But then Hillary Rodham Clinton hasn’t said she would run, either. Sure, she won’t.
These are interesting times.