MIAMI — She was almost like a member of the family. An employee, but almost one of them.
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For three years, Maria Magdalena Romero had tended to the suburban Miami home of Jeb and Columba Bush, had helped to raise their three children, had twined into the fabric of their lives.
Then, with lurching swiftness, she was yanked away. On a mild winter morning in 1991, two immigration agents appeared at the door of the family home looking for the woman Bush's youngest son and namesake, then just 10 years old, remembers as "a super nice lady." They carried deportation orders.
It didn't matter that Bush's father was president of the United States at the time or that a Secret Service agent had answered the door. Romero, who was in the country illegally but had a work permit, wasn't getting a reprieve.
"It was a difficult time for all of us, but most of all for Maria," Jeb Bush said in an e-mail about that day. His son, Jeb Jr., hadn't even realized she'd been deported. "I thought she just left," Jeb Jr. said in a recent interview.
That long-ago deportation is one among many inflection points for the elder Bush in what has been a lifetime of intimate proximity to America's Hispanic community, to its searing pain and its buoyant joy, to its mores and its politics. While Republicans cast about for leaders who can connect with Spanish-speaking voters, this tall Texas native with the Mexican American wife has remarkably come to represent a kind of Hispanic consciousness for the party.
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