Jeb Bush, knowing these comments would generate quite a bit of discussion and controversy (maybe that was the point), told an audience at his father's library in College Station that illegal immigrants who want to provide for their families come to this country out of love. He also said illegal immigration is not a felony.
On that second point, he's correct. I've told you before, someone being in this country illegally is not illegal the same way robbing a bank is illegal. Our country and immigration code treat it more as a clerical or paperwork error than an illegal act. That's not a commentary on whether that policy is appropriate or not, just stating what it is.
On his first point, that families come to this country illegally out of love, that can only be determined on a case by case basis. If Jeb Bush is so upset with this harsh tone he hears on immigration, fine. But I don't think he does the debate any great service by going too far in the other direction and treating illegal immigrants almost as victims. In doing so, by extension, he paints anyone who doesn't agree with him on immigration as a heartless SOB.
Why is it irrational or heartless to think those people who only see a better life across the border to stay in their home country and try to effect change there? Why is the starting point for his conversation that the only viable option is to flee their homeland and come here? Sure, we're that awesome. But that presents a false choice that there are only two options.
Having said that, we need to change our immigration policy. Make it easier for people who want to come to this country to do so legally. Stop focusing on citizenship so much and create an easier option for legal residence.