In a new op-ed, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush urged his fellow Republicans to have compassion for the unaccompanied minors coming to the United States and to not use the issue as an excuse to delay immigration reform.
He urged members of Congress to act on immigration reform, an issue that has stalled in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, before President Barack Obama does on his own.
President Obama has promised to once again act unilaterally if Congress fails to take up immigration reform, Bush said a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Wednesday evening that he wrote with Clint Bolick of the Goldwater Institute. Now is the time for House Republicans to demonstrate leadership on this issue. Congress should not use the present crisis as an excuse to defer comprehensive immigration reform.
Bush, who is a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, has been one of the lone voices within the Republican Party calling for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would offer undocumented immigrants a path to legalization. He received a lot of criticism from Republicans when he said in April that many people who come to the U.S. unlawfully do so as an act of love for their families.
Bush regressed back to his act of love comments in the op-ed when he said that unaccompanied minors deserve compassion. He said many of these minors the vast majority of them coming from Central America are trying to escape horrific gang violence and dire conditions in their native countries.
But at the same time, he called for stricter actions against these children, saying:
We must close loopholes that allow for individuals to be released from federal custody between hearings. Except for those deserving few who may demonstrate true cause for asylum or protection from sex trafficking, these children must be returned to their homes in Central America.
Bushs comments come after House Republicans released on Wednesday their plan to reduce the unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors who are crossing the nations southern border.
Their plan includes amending the 2008 anti-trafficking law to treat all children from Central America the same as those from Mexico or Canada for the purpose of removals. In addition, it calls for the deployment of National Guard troops to the border and the hiring of additional judges to expedite immigration court hearings.