Jeb Bush, who is vying for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election, on Monday objected to criticism of his use of the term “anchor babies,” clarifying that it was "more related to Asian people" than Hispanics.
Speaking at a news conference in McAllen, Texas, near the border with Mexico, Bush was asked whether his use of the term “anchor babies” in a radio interview last week could hurt his standing among Hispanic voters. The United States Constitution grants citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil, regardless of their parents’ status. U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants are sometimes called “anchor babies,” though critics say the term is offensive to immigrants.
"My background, my life, the fact that I'm immersed in the immigrant experience, this is ludicrous for the Clinton campaign and others to suggest that somehow I'm using a derogatory term," he said, according to Reuters. “What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there's organized efforts - frankly it's more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children in that organized effort, taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship," he added, speaking in Spanish.
"I support the 14th Amendment. Nothing about what I've said should be viewed as derogatory towards immigrants at all," Bush told reporters, according to Reuters.
"I was focusing on a specific targeted kind of case where people are organizing to bring pregnant women into the country, where they're having children so their children can become citizens," Bush said. "That's fraud."
Bush's latest statements were also condemned by immigrant groups. “This latest comment from Bush shows just how out of touch he is," K.J. Bagchi, the Democratic National Convention’s Director of Asian American and Pacific Islander Engagement, told ABC News. "The only thing worse than Jeb Bush's words about immigrant families may be his policies towards them.”
The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans also condemned Bush’s use of the term, calling it “derogatory.”
"From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and legislative attempts to overturn United States v. Wong Kim Ark to now calling us “anchor babies,” Asian American and Pacific Islander communities continue to be discriminated against as part of larger anti-immigrant rhetoric," the group said in a statement.