Jeb Bush: Illegal immigration is 'an act of love'

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who looks good in the mainstream media’s Republican primary now that former front-runner Chris Christie has been thrown off the George Washington Bridge, said he didn’t mind having his comments about illegal immigration committed to video, so here you go:

The Washington Post offers a transcript of Bush’s comments, which they say “clearly set Bush apart from other Republicans”:

Asked about immigration, Bush started by saying that a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate last year made “a good effort” at proposing ways to ensure that people overstaying visas leave the country.

“A great country ought to know where those folks are and politely ask them to leave,” he said, adding later that properly targeting people who overstay visas “would restore people’s confidence” in the nation’s immigration system.

“There are means by which we can control our border better than we have. And there should be penalties for breaking the law,” he added. “But the way I look at this — and I’m going to say this, and it’ll be on tape and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn???t come legally, they come to our country because their families — the dad who loved their children — was worried that their children didn???t have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. 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 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.”

Perhaps the first observation to make is that Bush isn’t really all that far apart from other Republicans on this issue – he’s just using provocative language to express a sentiment the entire amnesty caucus holds.  The Ruling Class has decreed that immigration laws aren’t really “laws” at all.  They’re broad guidelines, to be waived at the discretion of the Ruling Class for whatever moral and practical reasons it sees fit.  The written body of law governing immigration is essentially meaningless.  President Obama has waived substantial portions of it by executive fiat.  The Ruling Class does not wish to sacrifice its other priorities to attend to the unpleasant and expensive duty of border security.  Some of them strongly approve of the effect mass immigration has on the American electorate and workforce.

Obviously, no one who supports this approach sees most illegal immigrants as “criminals,” not in the sense they would look at most other people cooling their heels in correctional facilities for various other offenses.  If the violator is not a criminal, we are not talking about a law.  And if citizenship is not protected by law, then it has no real value or meaning.

Come to think of it, the Obama Administration recently demonstrated that it’s not all that keen to deport convicted criminals who entered the country illegally before committing a variety of other crimes.  Immigration violations aren’t even a big deal when they appear as bonus offenses on a rap sheet.

Bush is explicitly calling for written law to be waived for a particular class of people he feels sympathetic toward.  Of course this sympathy is highly subjective – right before his “act of love” quote, he talked about finding people who overstayed their visas and politely asking them to leave.  Why?  Aren’t they performing “acts of love” and demonstrating “commitment to their families” too?  Or is that level of compassion reserved for people who never had papers to begin with – people who got into the country by dragging their families through the desert?  Shall we make a halfhearted attempt to enforce something vaguely resembling the law only upon the easiest targets, who gave Uncle Sam their address and phone number when securing visas?  Or are we denying those folks their Act of Love Exemptions just because they generally don’t come from regions that already have enormous political strength in the United States?

Why are the legitimate citizens of the United States told to shut up when they complain about the gigantic financial and social costs of dealing with waves of illegal immigration?  Don’t we get any credit for acts of love and commitment toward our families?

What Bush said makes more sense if you cling to the ludicrous mythology of illegal aliens swiftly becoming productive net taxpayers.  We’re not allowed to point out that what really “riles us up” is that people are coming to this country to make the rest of us provide for their families.  We are sternly instructed to set aside all the rights and responsibilities of legitimate citizenship – including the right to exercise informed control over how much immigration we wish to permit – because we have some ill-defined responsibility to take care of everyone the basket-case governments of the world cannot properly serve.  And of course, we’re the only nation that’s supposed to surrender our definition of citizenship out of compassion.  Try illegally entering Mexico, telling their government that you did it because you love your family, and see where that gets you.

All of this mush descends from the refusal of amnesty supporters – for a variety of political, ideological, and financial reasons – to treat illegal aliens as criminals, to the point that we’re not even supposed to refer to them as either “illegal” or “aliens.”  And if you work backward from that conclusion, you realize that border security is more of a game than a matter of law or national defense – anybody who can get past whatever modest obstacles placed in their path “wins.”

The people who think this way allowed (or encouraged) the problem to get so bad over the last few decades that now they just throw up their hands and say the law is impossible to enforce… but they still can’t quite bring themselves to incur the wrath of American citizens by declaring citizenship to be completely meaningless.  They still have to pretend they kinda-sorta care about protecting the border… even though, by Jeb Bush’s reasoning, that means we’re dispatching armed agents to terrorize, and even jeopardize, people who are just expressing deep love for their families.

Why not just wave everyone who approaches the border with a family on through?  Heck, why not provide air-conditioned buses to get them past treacherous terrain, and the dangerous criminals who make money by uncomfortably smuggling them in?  Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) made this very point in his response to Jeb Bush, noting that the border-crossers themselves aren’t the only criminals empowered by our refusal to respect the rule of law – the demand for illegal access to American soil has empowered “transnational global criminal cartels who smuggle them in, who assault them, who leave them to die.”  By holding immigration in this weird twilight zone between open borders and effective enforcement, we are putting money in the pockets of criminals and endangering lives.  The more incentives we offer as a reward for getting across the border, the more customers those cartels will have.

And what about American citizens, including legal immigrants, who get busted for other non-felony offenses?  Shouldn’t they be allowed to make the case that they were just acting out of love and devotion toward their families?  How many Jean Valjeans pass through our crowded courts every day?  If the question was put to amnesty proponents, their answer would make plain what I’ve said above: immigration laws aren’t really laws, violators aren’t criminals, and stolen citizenship is worth much less than a loaf of bread stolen to feed hungry children.