Jeb Bush faces criticism for calling ‘anchor babies’ Asian
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who is seeking to become the Republican presidential nominee, has drawn criticism the past two days for his remarks linking “anchor babies” with Asian Americans.
He said on Monday that he used to term to describe cases in which foreigners abuse the law to gain citizenship for their children, and that it’s more prevalent among Asians.
Bush’s comment during a visit to a US-Mexico border town was largely aimed at alleviating perceived anger among the Hispanic community but unexpectedly triggered a strong reaction from Asian-American communities, in particular those in the Democratic Party.
On Tuesday, Judy Chu, a Democratic congresswoman from California and chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, described Bush’s comments as “both derogatory and offensive”.
“Instead of apologizing for using such an offensive term, he spent his time defending his comments. Basically, he shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Well, the reality is I don’t mean Hispanics, I mean Asians,’ ” Chu told a conference call on Tuesday. “This was even worse, pitting one group against the other.”
Calling Bush unfit to be president, Chu also pointed to Republican candidates Donald Trump and Scott Walker, who questioned birthright citizenship.
Grace Meng, a Democratic congresswoman from New York, expressed her disappointment at the Republican message of “slurring the children of immigrants, whether Hispanics or Asians”.
Representing a diverse district in Queens, Meng said “when you represent an area like this, you understand how important it is to ensure that everyone has opportunity to succeed no matter what their background and where their parents came from”.
“Immigrant families work hard,” she said. “We pay taxes. We serve in the military. We are friends, neighbors and community members. We contribute to the cultural fabric of this country and our communities. All we ask is to be treated with respect and to have equal opportunity of achieving the American Dream.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Mike Honda, a Democratic congressman from California, said “this language is a slur against all immigrants and has no place in our culture. We need to be focused on elevating the conversation and working towards real, comprehensive immigration reform.
“As the representative of the only Asian- American majority district in the continental United States, and as a proud American of Japanese descent, I strongly condemn these statements,” said Honda, whose 17th congressional district is located in Silicon Valley.
Stan Tsai, president of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association, Greater DC chapter, told China Daily that birthright is a US law, and it does encourage people to go to the US so that their children can be born there.
“As is human nature, all parents will find a better
Instead of apologizing for using such an offensive term, he (Jeb Bush) spent his time defending his comments.”
Judy Chu, California congresswoman
future and better opportunity for their kids. Nothing wrong with that,” he said.
Tsai said if anyone doesn’t like the idea about birthright citizenship, they should change it.
Immediately after Bush’s comments on Monday, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans ( NCAPA) and OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates issued statements condemning Bush’s use of the term anchor babies.
On Tu e s d a y,
Bush defended himself in a town hall meeting in Colorado by saying that “I was talking about a very narrowcast system of fraud where people are bringing … pregnant women in to have babies to have birthright citizenship” without naming Asian immigrants.
In early March, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided 37 so called “maternity hotels” or birthing centers in Southern California to collect evidence for alleged visa fraud and tax fraud.
Women travel from China and pay thousands of dollars to stay at the hotels, with the fees varying depending on the length of stay and level of accommodations.
A total of 29 Chinese individuals were previously designated by US magistrates as witnesses to testify against the business operators who allegedly helped women come to the US on fraudulent visas. In exchange, they would not be prosecuted.
According to Chinese media reports, the number of Chinese women who traveled to the US to have babies has increased by 100 times over the last 10 years. In 2007, the number was 600 and rose to more than 10,000 in 2008, when the US eased its visa processing for Chinese.
It was expected that 60,000 Chinese women were going to give birth in the US this year.
Amid the controversy, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton announced on Tuesday that Lisa Changadveja, a Thai American, has been named the Asian American-Pacific Islander (AAPI) Outreach Director for Hillary for America’s campaign to mobilize Asian voters.
A UCLA Center for the Study of Inequality and Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies report in May showed that Asian-American voters will play an important role in the 2016 presidential race.
The study finds that AsianAmerican registered voters will more than double from 5.9 million in 2015 to 12.2 million in 2040.
Asian Americans will grow 74 percent — from 20.5 million to 35.7 million — from 2015 to 2040.
Lia Zhu in San Francisco contributed to this story.