Jeb likens executive actions to decree from 'Latin American dictator'

Jeb Bush speaks at the Iowa Agriculture Summit on March 7, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)
Jeb Bush speaks at the Iowa Agriculture Summit on March 7, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Add Jeb Bush to the list of potential 2016 candidates to be confronted by immigration advocates while the cameras were rolling.

When confronted at a private event in Iowa on Saturday, the former Florida governor danced around explicitly laying out his stance on President Obama's executive actions on immigration or whether he hopes to see those programs continue. Pressed on whether he plans to repeal the deferred action program for DREAMers -- young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children -- Bush likened the president's unilateral measures to the actions of a "Latin American dictator."

"Let's give them priority to be citizens. But by the law, not by decree, because that's like a Latin American dictator," Bush said.

When pressed to clarify whether he would gut the latest rounds of executive actions, namely the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents -- DAPA for short -- Bush said he wanted to see a more permanent solution.

"Pass a law so there's permanence. What DACA does is it's only for two years, no more. The problem continues after that," he said.

Related: GOP hopefuls talk trade, immigration and more in Iowa

DREAMer groups have vowed to conduct more ambush interviews while potential candidates hit the campaign trail. At the heart of the issue is the fate of Obama's executive actions on immigration. The latest measures failed to make it out of the gate last month after a federal judge in Texas hit the brakes on the enrollment process to allow a coalition of 26 states to move forward with a lawsuit against the government. It will likely take months for the case to make its way through the courts, meaning if the executive actions do ever start up, the timing of enrollment would likely land squarely in 2016 territory.