Jeb Bush continued Monday to dismiss criticism for using the term “anchor babies,” saying that it is “ludicrous” that he is being accused of using a term that insults immigrants.
“Nothing about what I’ve said should be viewed as derogatory towards immigrants at all,” the GOP presidential candidate said after meeting with local officials near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, TX. “This is all how politics plays. And by the way, I think we need to take a step back and chill out a little bit as it relates to the political correctness that somehow you have to be scolded every time you say something.”
Bush said that he used the term “anchor babies” specifically to refer to fraud -- sometimes called "birth tourism" -- in a “specific targeted kind of case” involving mothers who travel to the United States only to win citizenship for their unborn children.
“Frankly it’s more Asian people,” he added.
Bush used the term “anchor babies” during an interview with conservative radio host Bill Bennett last week, saying “If there’s abuse, if people are bringing — pregnant women are coming in to have babies simply because they can do it, then there ought to be greater enforcement … That’s [the] legitimate side of this. Better enforcement so that you don’t have these, you know, ‘anchor babies’, as they’re described, coming into the country.”
The former Florida governor said that it’s “inappropriate” for Democratic foes like Hillary Clinton to accuse him of using insensitive language when it comes to immigrants.
“My background, my life, the fact that I am immersed in the immigrant experience, this is ludicrous for the Clinton campaign and others to suggest that somehow I am using a derogatory term,” he said.
He reiterated his comment last week that he’s happy to use other terminology to refer to the phenomenon of exploitation of birthright citizenship.
“This is so ridiculous,” he told a reporter. “You give me the name you want me to use and I’ll use it.”
Bush kept up his criticism of Donald Trump, saying that the GOP frontrunner’s draconian immigration proposal is “not grounded in conservative principles.”
"The simple fact is that his proposal is unrealistic, it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, it will violate people's civil liberties, it will create friction with our third largest trading partner," he added. "I think he's wrong about this."