Jeb Bush aggressively defended his use of the term “anchor babies” during a trip on Monday to the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the term describes fraudulent immigration “more related to Asian people.”
“This is ludicrous for the [Hillary] Clinton campaign and others to suggest that somehow I am using a derogatory term,” the presidential candidate said after a roundtable with local officials on border security and immigration in McAllen, Texas.
“What I’m talking about is 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 that noble concept, which is birthright citizenship.”
Bush may have been referring to a March raid by federal agents that caught an alleged ring of California businesses that authorities say help mostly Chinese women give birth in America so that their children become American citizens.
A Wall Street Journal story noted that the investigation of the California ring could “culminate in the biggest federal criminal case ever against the booming ‘anchor baby’ industry, according to U.S. officials.”
Clinton’s campaign traded barbs with Bush’s over Twitter last week on the use of the term. Bush has repeatedly rebuffed suggestions from Democrats and immigration activists that the term is offensive.
“This is so ridiculous, give me the name you want me to use and I’ll use it,” he told a reporter.
“The immigrant experience, don’t give me a lecture about that. I am proudly married to a Mexican-American, my sons are Hispanic,” he added in Spanish to cheers after a question in that language.
Bush’s trip to the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday came about a month after his chief rival for the GOP nomination, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE, made his own visit. News outlets blanketed coverage of that day, showing Trump’s plane touch down on the border and airing both of his press appearances.
The former Florida governor’s trip came with less fanfare, but at a time when Bush and Trump continue to spar over immigration.
Bush took a few jabs at Trump over his immigration platform, which was released last week and calls for, among other things, an end to birthright citizenship.
After initially referring to the real-estate magnate as “another candidate” in his initial remarks, Bush later criticized Trump directly.
“Mr. Trump’s plans are not grounded in conservative principles,” he said.
Hours after the news conference, Bush's campaign released a video rounding up negative reviews from Republicans and news outlets on Trump's immigration plan.
— This story was updated at 5:40 p.m.