WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush's comments Sunday comparing some illegal immigration to "an act of love" elicited a range of reactions. It was a bold statement for a Republican, or the death knell to any presidential hopes.
"He will be missed," Stephen Colbert joked on Comedy Central.
Bush's remarks remind close watchers of something U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio once said along the same lines.
Here is Bush on Fox News: "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 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."
And this is what Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, said in his 2012 memoir: "If my kids went to sleep hungry every night and my country didn't give me an opportunity to feed them, there isn't a law, no matter how restrictive, that would prevent me from coming here."
Rubio's words did not get a lot of attention but he knows the burn of getting too close to the immigration issue.
Amid criticism from some conservatives, Bush also got praise.
"Governor Bush is right — it is a motivation of love that drives many to overstay a visa or enter the country unlawfully," Darren Sullivan, a pastor at Chet's Creek Church in Jacksonville, said in a statement. "That doesn't mean we should ignore or forgive the violation of law, but it is important to recognize that many of those who have violated the law are doing so out of desperation and a desire to provide for their families, which is a noble desire very consistent with our Christian faith."