WASHINGTON — Hinting that a decision on his presidential ambitions is coming "in short order," former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday condemned President Barack Obama's recent immigration order for going "way beyond" what other presidents have done — including Bush's father.
Bush, the son of one president and brother of another, also reiterated his support for a pathway to legal status for immigrants in the United States illegally, but said Obama may have exceeded his constitutional authority by unilaterally lifting the threat of deportation from millions of such immigrants last month.
"The idea that, well, Reagan did it, my dad did it — they did it on a much smaller scale and they did it with consent of Congress. There are a lot of differences," Bush said Monday night at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council, an invitation-only event in Washington featuring some of the nation's most powerful CEOs.
Obama's move "makes it harder" for Congress to adopt lasting immigration reform, Bush said, speaking publicly about the order for the first time. "It's a shame."
Two of the last three Republican presidents — Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush — also extended amnesty to family members of immigrants who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986.
Obama's executive order has drawn a withering response from Republicans.
Jeb Bush reiterated his interest in a presidential run on Monday.
"I'm thinking about running for president. And I'll make up my mind in short order — not that far out in the future," he said.