Credit: Gage Skidmore/wikimediaCredit: Gage Skidmore/wikimediaEarlier this month, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) said that many people who come to the U.S. illegally do so as "an act of love." Bush defended his comments a few days later saying, "You know, I’ve been saying this for the last three or four years, I said the exact same thing that I've said regularly."

In an interview that aired yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that Bush "might have been more artful, maybe, in the way he presented this, but I don’t want to say, 'Oh he’s terrible for saying this.'"

Paul went on to say, "If it were me, what I would have said is, 'People who seek the American dream are not bad people. … However, we can’t invite the whole world.' When you say they are doing an act of love and you don’t follow it up with 'but we have to control the border' people think 'well because they're doing this for kind reasons that the whole world can come to our country.'"

Watch a video of Paul’s comments below (immigration comments start at 1:57 mark).

Paul on Immigration

Paul mentioned border control in a June 2013 Politico op-ed while explaining why he would be voting "no" on immigration reform. From Politico:

I will be voting no on the Senate’s Gang of Eight immigration bill for one simple reason: because the legislation does not secure the border first.

The American people desperately need immigration reform. Unfortunately, this legislation does not do the job.

Of paramount concern is what to do with the 12 million people currently residing in the United States who are in legal limbo. No one is seriously contemplating they leave, but conservatives believe that normalizing their status should only follow serious efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. And I’m sorry to say that the Gang of Eight’s proposal is just not serious.

In July 2013 Paul said that the Republican Party needs to "welcome" immigrants. From Politico:

The former Bowling Green ophthalmologist said that he could only support a reform measure that implements strict border security before – or at least simultaneous with – giving some legal status to undocumented immigrants.

"Because I am for immigration reform, because I am for finding a place in society for people, doesn’t mean I have to vote for a crummy bill," Paul said. "Really a lot of conservatives who are for immigration reform, like myself, just want Congress to be in charge of deciding whether the border is secure."

Paul has frustrated some Republicans during the immigration debate by consistently arguing in favor of reform at the conceptual level, but shying away from each of the compromise proposals that came up in Senate negotiations.

He took a dismissive tone Thursday toward the final deal that his colleagues in the so-called "Gang of Eight" hammered out, which involved steep increases in funding for a list of border security enhancements. "They just kind of went crazy at the end," Paul said.

Still, Paul’s pro-reform rhetoric is significant at a moment when many congressional Republicans are unsure whether they even want to try and pass a comprehensive overhaul.

Earlier this month Paul said that the Republican Party needs "to get beyond deportation" and that the future of the GOP depends on Republicans connecting with Hispanics. From Fox News Latino:

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul told fellow Republicans on Tuesday that the future of their party depends on them connecting with Hispanics in a more empathetic way and on getting in front of immigration reform—a message that further signals his flirtation with a 2016 presidential run.

"If we are to change people’s attitudes toward … the Republican Party, we have to show up and we have to have something to say," Paul told a small group of conservatives gathered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. "I hope to be part of that dialogue."

This certainly was not the first time that Paul, since being elected to the Senate in 2010, has attempted to connect with Hispanics and other minorities.

In the last presidential election only 27 percent of Latinos who voted backed Mitt Romney. Graph from the American Enterprise Institute below:

AEIAEI

Reason Polling on Immigration

The Reaon-Rupe Poll found last year that 53 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats believe that immigration hurts the economy:

Reason-Rupe PollReason-Rupe Poll

More from Reason on immigration here