Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican and a long-time proponent for immigration reform, is catching heat from liberals and conservatives, alike, after he made some curious comments on Friday about immigrant family structures.

His statements, which were made during the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to the Majority conference, are catching the ire of individuals on both sides of the aisle.

Jeb Bushs Immigrants Are More Fertile Comment Causes Some Head Scratching

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During his speech, Bush argued in favor of immigration reform — a subject that is at the center of Congressional discussion at the moment.

“Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans,” he said. “Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.”

Watch these comments, below:

Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher weighed in on the controversy and the comments it spawned, noting that some will charge that Bush was reinforcing cultural stereotypes, while others will say he merely (and, perhaps unintentionally) confused birthrate and fertility:

The gaffe makes a little bit more sense in context, but only a little. The remark will rightly be thrown onto the “War on Women” bonfire as an attack on the barren American women in his imagination, but there are two fair points to make about the context. First of all, many will hear “Mexicans” when Bush says “immigrants,” but he does point out, earlier, that he’s not referring to race or ethnicity. However, he then points out that the “problem” Americans have with “fertility” is also plaguing “Eurpope” and “Japan” and “China,” so that kinda narrows down who he is talking about.

Secondly, he prefaces the remark by talking about the sustainability of programs like Social Security and Medicaid, in the context of America’s “fertility” problem. What he probably meant to talk about was “birthrate,” not fertility, or he think’s they are the same thing. Either he’s slagging “native-born” American women for being biologically inferior, or (more likely) he is slagging those American women for the choices they make, often out of economic necessity. Finally, there will be some Latino voters who will hear Gov. Bush promoting a cultural stereotype, voters the GOP already has a major problem with.

During the address, the former governor also warned that a failure to come up with an immigration solution would lead the U.S. to decline. Productivity, he argued, is “dependent upon young people that are equipped to be able to work hard,” according to a transcript of his words published by the Washington Post.

It should be noted that Bush’s own wife is a Mexican-born immigrant — a fact that would cause some to challenge critiques that that politician, a possible 2016 presidential contender, was looking to reinforce negative stereotypes.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.

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