Jeb Bush didn’t plan to talk about immigration at all when announcing his presidential run – until protesters made him.
Bush took his only departure from his prepared remarks Monday to respond to a group of people heckling him on immigration reform.
Protesters advocating for a path to legal citizenship chanted and wore bright yellow shirts that together spelled “Legal status is not enough,” a reference to how some Republicans including Bush have advocated for undocumented immigrants to have legal status to be in the U.S. but not full citizenship.
As Bush introduced his mother to the Miami crowd, he shot back.
“The next president will pass meaningful immigration reform so that will be resolved – not by executive order,” the former Florida governor said.
The immigration reform advocacy group United We Dream took credit for the protest, and outlined their issues on social media shortly after Bush’s speech wrapped.
“We protested @JebBush bc he has been all over the map on #immigration. From ‘act of love’ to ‘kindly asked to leave,’” the group tweeted.
Bush, like most of the Republican field, has criticized President Barack Obama’s reliance on executive orders to shield some undocumented immigrants from deportation. Bush himself has been one of the few GOP hopefuls to embrace a pathway to legal status for those immigrants, though his Republican rivals will almost certainly look to tarnish him with supporting what they deem “amnesty.”
The now-official presidential candidate is asked routinely on the stump about his immigration position, which is expected to be a serious liability among the Republican base. But it wasn’t a topic he approached Monday in his remarks.
As he frequently does, Bush detailed the story of how he met his Latina wife, Columba, while studying abroad in Mexico, and spoke for about 20 seconds in Spanish.
“As a candidate, I intend to let everyone hear my message, including the many who can express their love of country in a different language,” Bush said.