MCALLEN, Texas — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday dismissed the controversy surrounding his use of the term "anchor baby" during a visit to this U.S.-Mexico border town, saying that he merely used the term to describe instances in which non-Americans abuse the law to gain citizenship for their children, and that it is more prevalent among Asians.
"What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there is organized efforts — and, 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," Bush told reporters during a new conference in McAllen.
The Republican presidential candidate's event in the Texas town, which sits near the southernmost tip of the state, was designed to paint a sharp contrast between his immigration reform agenda and the platform outlined last week by presidential rival Donald Trump. The business mogul has called for the mass deportation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States and for building a wall along the entire southern border.
But it was Trump's call to end birthright citizenship — which grants citizenship to those born in the United States, regardless of their parents' nationalities — which stirred the most controversy. It also created headaches for his Republican rivals, who struggled with how to respond to questions on the issue.
Bush ran into trouble last week when he used the term "anchor baby" while responding to a question about Trump's call to change the law.
Bush has been hit on immigration from both sides. The Clinton campaign released its own online video Monday attacking Bush's immigration positions, likening his agenda to Trump's.
Trump said Bush had reversed his position. "Now he wants to use (the term) because I use it," Trump tweeted Friday. "Stay true to yourself!"
On Monday, Bush said he supports the Fourteenth Amendment.
"Mr. Trump's plans are not grounded in conservative principals," Bush told reporters. "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 that is not necessary."