Jeb Bush Breaks With Most Other Republicans On Refugee Policy

Jeb Bush seems to split with nearly all of the Republican Governors in the United States, and most of his fellow candidates for President, Jeb Bush told Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin that the United States shouldn’t bar Syrian refugees regardless of religion absent any evidence for concern:

Jeb Bush said he wouldn’t ban Syrian refugees from entering the United States, separating himself from most Republican governors and his party’s presidential field as he pitched himself as the most experienced candidate running for the nomination.

“The answer to this is not to ban people from coming,” Bush said Tuesday in an interview with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann for Bloomberg Politics’ With All Due Respect. “The answer is to lead, to resolve the problem in Syria.”

Attacks in Paris on Friday that killed or injured roughly 500 people have become a political issue in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, as candidates call for the U.S. government to shut the doors to Syrian refugees, saying terrorists might infiltrate the ranks of the displaced. More than 20 Republican governors are seeking to halt the flow of Syrian refugees to their states.

 At the Robert Mills House and Gardens in Columbia, South Carolina, Bush stressed the United States shouldn’t allow in refugees “if there’s any kind of concern.”

“But I don’t think we should eliminate our support for refugees,” Bush added. “It’s been a noble tradition in our country for many years.”

This is slightly different from what Bush said on Sunday when he suggested that refugee policy should concentrate on assisting Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, although to be fair he did not say that we should not accept Muslim refugees at all. Also, but noting that we should make sure that there isn’t any type of “concern,” Bush is addressing the security concerns that have been raised in the wake of the Paris attacks. For the most part, though, this is quite a different stand from the one that most Republicans are taking, so it’s going to cause Bush to stand out and it may end up hurting him politically with Republican voters. For that reason alone, while I don’t often agree with former Governor Bush and he hasn’t exactly run the most impressive Presidential campaign I’ve ever seen, he does deserve some credit for not letting himself get dragged into the fearmongering, pandering and xenophobia motivating many of his fellow Republicans.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Borders and Immigration, Middle East, National Security, Religion, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Bill Lefrak says:

    Dealing with Cuban refugees for eight years likely informs this stance, too.

  2. chas holman says:

    I give Mr Bush a lot of credit for ‘kind’ of coming around. It will do him no favors in his own party. likely the death warrant of his campaign.

    In the last 2 months, 3000 Americans, nearly 300 children, have died violently in the United States by gun violence. We had that many die in the time period before, and there will be that many in the time period after. NONE of these have been caused by refugee’s fleeing terror. —- In about a month we celebrate Christmas.. The story of a downtrodden Middle Eastern Family no one wanted to give shelter to when they needed it most.

  3. Tyrell says:

    One solution would be to have sponsors for the Syria immigrants . These could be families or organizations. They would guarantee that these people not engage in any terrorist or other illegal activities.

  4. bookdragon says:

    I suppose since his campaign is already about doomed he can finally decide that staying ahead in the race is not worth his soul.

    I’ll give him credit for that.

  5. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @bookdragon: I would note that I will give him credit for turning around after he started wading into the “fearmongering, pandering, and xenophobia,” but you expressed it much better.

  6. T. Reilly says:

    @Tyrell: Tyrel, Can you say more about how a sponsor could “guarantee that these people not engage in any terrorist or other illegal activities”? Just exactly how can a sponsor control the behavior or activities of anyone?

  7. T. Reilly says:

    @chas holman: While violent people using guns to murder others is a legitimate issue, comparing it to the consequences bringing Syrian refugees to the US when it is acknowledged that we can’t verify that the names they give us and which are used to check backgrounds are accurate is just not relative. Further, how can valid background checks be conducted when the records infrastructure is non existent or at best unreliable. Documents in any name you like are readily available. This is yet another reason purported “background checks” serve no purpose other than making it appear that protocol was followed.
    With all due respect, many Americans want to know why there is money to provide for refugees but not our veterans, many of whom desperately need medical services, rehabilitation and disability payments. Seniors who paid into Social Security are constantly being threatened that the well is running dry and they worry that sooner or later their benefits will be sharply cut when they can barely make ends meet as it is. It is difficult to accept that your President consistently chooses supporting the needs of others over the citizenry.