Several top Republican donors are touting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as one of the party's best voices on immigration reform going into the 2016 elections, the Tampa Bay Times reported
Mike Fernandez, a major donor in Florida and longtime Bush ally, and Spencer Zwick, national finance chairman of Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign, both praised Bush for taking the lead on the issue.
"Certainly Gov. Bush has decided to lead on the issue," Zwick said, according to the Times. "We have to have someone who is willing to take on this issue."
He added: "We have to nominate a candidate who is willing to let action be stronger than inaction. Because as Republicans, we've let inaction be our model for too long."
The comments were part of a conference call arranged by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a Republican group that has pushed for immigration reform.
Fernandez highlighted his own story of arriving from Cuba as an immigrant in 1965.
"Had you met me back then you would have seen me cleaning animal cages at a hospital," said the billionaire healthcare CEO, according to the Times. "I could have easily been confused with one of the 11 million undocumented residents we have in this country today."
Fernandez said he believed the increasing Hispanic population in the U.S. is a "game changer," and it would be misguided for Republicans not to court this community.
"We need to welcome these individuals. These individuals are risk takers. They did not come here for anything else other than improving their lives and we need them in order to improve our economy."
Bush has drawn criticism from conservatives for his position on immigration
, particularly after he said at one point that many people came to the United States illegally as an "act of love" to provide for their families.
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