Jeb Bush made immigration a personal issue during his time as Florida governor.
Emails released recently by the presumptive 2016 GOP presidential candidate show that Bush responded personally to desperate pleas from citizens who had run into immigration roadblocks and appealed to the governor for help, according to a report by The Hill.
In an email from 2003, a woman wrote to Bush about the plight of a family of five who arrived to the U.S. from Argentina on tourist visas. In the message, the woman wrote that a Florida man advertising himself as an immigration lawyer stole $3,500 from the family after promising to help them stay in the country permanently.
“This family has entered our country legally and have now lapsed into illegal status due to the scam of a lawyer that was to help them,” the woman wrote in the email. “Their dream of dreams is to work, raise their family and pay their taxes in this country.”
In his response, Bush said he didn’t know if there was anything that he could do, but that he would try. He said he would direct his legal counsel to intervene with Immigration and Naturalization Service officials in Miami.
Bush’s emails can be found in a searchable archive at the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
In speeches, the former governor has argued that the country’s current immigration system should put a preference on family reunification. In many cases in the e-mail archive, Bush offered his help or the help of his immigration lawyer.
In an another message, a pregnant Florida woman who was married to a Mexican citizen reached out to the governor saying that she and her husband desperately wanted to raise their child together, but her husband had not heard back about his immigrant application.
“I am beginning to get nervous and almost desperate about what is currently happening in my life,” the woman wrote. “Next month I will enter my last trimester and I will not be able to travel to visit my husband anymore. In planning for my delivery, my closest relative is 3.5 hours away and I only get 6-9 weeks of maternity leave from work.”
Bush responded, “I will do my best to try to help.”
When it comes to immigration, the former Florida governor has said that while he supports stronger border security – a universally held position among Republicans – he also supports a path to legal residency for some immigrants who are in the country illegally.
This stance, along with his statement earlier this year that sometimes undocumented immigration is an “act of love,” could become an issue during Republican primaries. It certainly sets Bush apart from most of the other presumptive GOP candidates.