The Corner

Jeb Bush: Illegal Immigration as an ‘Act of Love’

The Washington Post reports:

“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.”

I think Governor Bush is right: The motives behind most illegal immigration mean that our moral judgment of illegal immigrants should be less harsh than our moral judgment of some other types of lawbreakers. That should affect our judgment about what the right policy on immigration should be. It does not, however, settle what it should be. And people are right to be riled up about what a hash Washington, D.C., has made of this issue.

(By the way, I have no idea what the first paragraph of the Post’s write-up means. Any guesses?)

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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