Gov. Rick Perry (R–Texas) weighed in on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s contentious comments about illegal immigration, expressing sympathy for those who broke laws “to take care of their family.”

“I totally understand about people breaking a law to take care of their family, particularly when the country whose law you’re breaking has for forty years basically said, ‘come on over, don’t worry about it’,” Perry said on Fox News.

Perry said that since “all of a sudden the rules [got] changed” after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “We have to stand up and truthfully say that that was the message all too often.”

Bush came under fire for stating earlier this month that illegal immigrants “wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.) came to Bush’s defense on Monday, posting on Facebook that “I agree with Jeb, and I applaud him for having the guts to say it.”

“Sure, some come with the intent to do harm or simply to take advantage of our generosity,” Flake said. “But many come to find work to feed their families. To lump everyone who crosses the border illegally into the same class is unfair and unproductive.”

The Heritage Foundation’s David Inserra, however, argued that “what is really unfair” is the cost of amnesty that will provide illegal immigrants “access to the whole range of U.S. services and benefits, including welfare and entitlement reforms, most of which are already bloated and fiscally unsustainable.”

He added, “While pro-amnesty advocates say that is unfair and wrong to deport unlawful immigrants, is it fair or right to impose trillions of dollars in new costs on the American people?

This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.