NAFSA Statement on Jeb Bush’s Remarks on Immigration Reform


Statement by Victor C. Johnson, Senior Adviser for Public Policy


Rebecca Morgan, 202.495.2553,
Katie O’Connell, 202.495.2559,

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2014 - In the no-holds-barred debate on immigration reform, it is refreshing and encouraging to see a statement from a political leader that gets to the heart of the issue and reflects understanding, compassion, and common sense. We salute former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for speaking out on this important issue.

According to a recent article in the April 8 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bush said:

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.

Many of those who we lump together in the “illegal immigrant” category, came to this country to feed their families, to take jobs that our employers needed to fill, and to do work that our country needs to have done. They came illegally because our visa system lags behind our needs and the necessary visas were not available. Technically they broke the law, but they are in no other sense criminals. We need to adjust our laws to reflect this reality. We do not need to demonize law-abiding, hard-working people who are harvesting our food, building our houses, and doing a myriad of other jobs that help all of us lead better lives.

The fact that Mr. Bush’s statement is so unusual, and requires such courage, reflects poorly on us as a nation. NAFSA commends Mr. Bush for speaking this simple yet profound truth. We also commend Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona for publicly supporting his comments, and hope others will follow their example.

NAFSA calls on House leadership to bring immigration reform up for a vote this year. There is a bipartisan majority ready to vote and pass immigration reform that puts all 11 million aspiring Americans on a path to citizenship and end our immigration crisis once and for all.

Read more about NAFSA’s priorities for immigration reform at