Jeb Says ‘Anchor Baby’ Was Meant to Criticize Asians, Not Mexicans

By Published on August 25, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush rebuffed claims that the phrase “anchor baby” is offensive towards Hispanics, saying the media needs to “chill out” and that in any case the term is more targeted at Asians anyway.

Bush first used the phrase “anchor baby” last Thursday on a conservative radio talk show, saying he supported greater efforts to prevent pregnant women from coming to the U.S. solely to give birth here. The term was dubbed offensive by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and much of the media suggested the term was anti-Hispanic.

But at a Monday appearance in McAllen, Texas, a majority-Hispanic city on the Mexican border, Bush said the idea he was attacking Hispanics was “ludicrous,” in part because anchor babies are a primarily Asian phenomenon.

“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed in 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 said.



Bush added that the media needed to “chill out” and stop attacking politicians for every word they use. He also cited his own life experiences to rebut the notion he is anti-immigrant.

“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. Bush’s wife, Columba, is a Mexican immigrant.

Bush’s mention of Asian anchor babies reflects a genuine phenomenon also known as “birth tourism.” Birth tourists, mostly of Asian origin, deliberately plan to travel to the United States right as they are about to give birth. These children are still typically raised overseas, but thanks to their U.S. citizenship they will be able to freely return to the U.S. when they grow up, and potentially facilitate immigration for other family members.

While there aren’t official tallies for the phenomenon, the number of anchor babies resulting from birth tourism is estimated to be in the tens of thousands each year.

While Bush described anchor babies as a mostly Asian phenomenon, he otherwise discussed immigration Monday mostly in terms of the southern border. Bush called for the increased use of unmanned drones to conduct border surveillance, and he also called for unspecified policies to deter unaccompanied Central American children from showing up at the border, as thousands have in the last several years.


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