Gov. Jeb Bush again finds himself under fire for remarks he says have been taken wrong way – this time involving Asian-Americans.
The Republican presidential candidate, who has been criticized in recent days for using the controversial term “anchor babies,” which some people use to describe children born in the U.S.to undocumented immigrants, stressed during a press conference in Texas on Monday that it was not a move by him to put down Latinos.
Bush said that he honors and respects the Latino community, noting that he lived in Mexico and that Latinos are part and parcel of his personal life.
“I’m proudly married to a Mexican-American,” said Bush, “My kids are Latinos.”
“My background, my life, the fact that I’ve been immersed in the Hispanic experience, it’s ludicrous to suggest that I’m using a derogatory term,” he said. “It’s more related to Asian people coming to our country, having children and taking advantage of a noble concept – birthright citizenship.”
Asian-Americans denounced Bush’s rationalization, saying that in trying to appease one group he slighted another.
“Jeb Bush should know Asian Pacific Americans don’t only speak English, we can speak several languages, including Spanish," said Dawn Le, a spokeswoman for the Alliance for Citizenship, in a statement. “He can’t pander to Latinos in one breath and then insult Asians and Asian-Pacific Americans in the next. Jeb’s remarks suggest how he might lead as president — by following Donald Trump down to the bottom of the barrel.”
Bush appears to have been trying to describe the growing practice, especially among pregnant women from China, of traveling to the United States through organized rings so that they can have children who will be born U.S. citizens.
Called “maternity tourism” by federal government agents who investigate and prosecute such schemes, many businesses openly advertise their services in helping pregnant women from Asian countries travel to the United States to give birth, according to the Los Angeles Times. Those agencies push the amenities of giving birth in the United States, telling prospective customers that their U.S.-born children will enjoy quality public education and other benefits.
Taiwanese, Korean and Turkish mothers also take part in maternity tourism, the Times said, but added that it has become hugely appealing to the “newly wealthy Chinese middle class.”
On Tuesday, Bush told reporters he was not putting down Asian-Americans. He said he was trying to distinguish between birthright citizenship, which involves the U.S.-born babies of undocumented immigrants or other non-citizens living in this country, and the international scheme of smuggling in pregnant women just so they could give birth here.
“I was talking about a very narrow-casted system of fraud, where people are bringing pregnant women in to have babies, to give birthright citizenship,” Bush said. “I support birthright citizenship, by the way.”
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