Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush expressed sympathy for illegal immigrants Sunday, saying many came to America as an "act of love" to provide for their families, but the comments are already attracting criticism.
According to The Orlando Sentinel
, reaction in Bush's home state has been negative, with possible implications for a 2016 presidential bid.
"And this guy wants to be a president different than [Barack] Obama?" the Floridians for Immigration Enforcement said on Monday, according to the Sentinel.
Bush made the controversial comments about immigration
at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the presidency of George. H.W. Bush at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Texas.
Bush said, "The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn't come legally… 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."
The Sentinel said his comments will likely haunt him if he makes a bid for the White House, despite the fact that his position has been long-held by members of the Bush family, who in Texas and Florida successfully attracted the support of a significant portion of Hispanic voters even while pushing for immigration reform.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Bush protégé, made a name for himself in national GOP circles with his push for comprehensive immigration reform, but was criticized by many Republicans who oppose one of his proposals to offer a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants.
Republican lawmakers continue to be divided on the issue of whether to grant legal status to undocumented immigrants, which has been one of the reasons that the House GOP has delayed its plans for an immigration overhaul.
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