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Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Hey, Jeb, How About an ‘Act of Love’ for the Grassroots?



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Hey, Jeb, How About an ‘Act of Love’ for Those Who Disagree With You?

The advantages of a Jeb Bush presidential bid are obvious: “As a presidential candidate, Bush would bring a lot to the table, starting with two terms as a popular, tax-cutting governor, a reputation as a national leader on education reform and school choice, and his family’s extensive and deep-pocketed fundraising network.”

But there are these nagging indicators that he’s either not in touch with the mood of the conservative grassroots, or he’s willfully at odds with the conservative grassroots, and confident he can dissuade the grassroots of their opinion. (See his increasingly fervent defense of Common Core, which infuriates parents on the Right more than any other topic besides Obamacare.) And now we’re on to illegal immigration:

“I’m going to say this and it will be on tape and so be it,” Bush said in an interview with Fox News host Shannon Bream in an event at the Texas presidential library of his father, George H. W. Bush.

“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.”

Bush, 61, added: “I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime. 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.”

What he’s saying is true in some cases . . . and not true in other cases. Sure, some illegal immigrants come here, hoping to make money to provide for their families. But some don’t. I had to hunt to find a decent survey of illegal immigrants, asking why they came to the United States. A not-reassuring conclusion:

Ryo found that while cost-benefit calculations such as perceptions of job availability in Mexico and dangers of crossing the border do play a significant role in Mexicans’ decisions about whether to enter the US illegally, non-economic factors matter as well.

“For example, perceptions about the legitimacy of US legal authority, the morality of violating US immigration laws, and social norms on illegal border crossings are significantly related to people’s intentions to migrate illegally,” she says . . . 

She also found that the odds of intending to migrate illegally were more than doubled for individuals who believed that Mexicans have a right to be in the United States without the US government’s permission.

Interestingly, the vast majority — 78 percent — of people says it is not okay to disobey the law when one disagreed with it. However, 55 percent says that disobeying the law is sometimes justified.

In short, a significant number of Mexicans do not believe that the United States has the moral or legal authority to keep them out. Their concept of the border is fundamentally different from how it is defined under our laws.

Back to Jeb’s “act of love” comment — you know what that sounds like? Flash back about two and a half years, to another governor who was considered a strong contender for the Republican presidential nomination: “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”

Jeb’s going to have to be very careful on this, because Perry’s comment was one of the first major missteps of a doomed campaign. A Republican front-runner cannot echo the narrative of the Democrat-Media Complex, suggesting that opposition to illegal immigration is driven by callous, selfish, xenophobic white hicks who are afraid of excessively spicy salsa.

“It’s an act of love”? Okay. Judges and juries are allowed to consider motive when a person is accused of a crime and, once convicted, allowed to consider motive when sentencing. But a noble motive doesn’t invalidate the crime. If you shoplift and say you’re just trying to provide for your family, the store may still press charges. If you rob a bank and say you wanted to give some of the money to charity, you don’t get off the hook.

I’m among those who conclude that a safer, better America does not necessarily require the deportation of every single Manuel the Busboy who entered the country illegally. Obviously, everyone who’s entered the country and committed additional crimes needs to get tossed out ASAP; anyone who wants to stay has to pay some sort of significant penalty — fines, national service, etc.

For what it’s worth, the U.S. Senate has a different idea of what constitutes “additional crimes”:

The Senate immigration bill as it currently stands will allow an illegal alien with two convictions “for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated” to be granted legal status in this country.

But it’s far from a nutty perspective to think, and contend, everybody who entered illegally should be deported — i.e., this country should enforce its laws as they’re written.

I understand why Democrats and progressives would insist that every immigration restrictionist and anti-amnesty type is driven by racism and xenophobia; they’re trying to discourage anyone from ever expressing that viewpoint in public. But why would a Rick Perry or Jeb Bush make comments that concur with that demonization of their opponents?


Tags: Jeb Bush , Illegal Immigration , Rick Perry


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