Bush Reacts to Outcry Over Tying Asians to Anchor Baby Debate

If you’ve been following the presidential campaign as I have, you know that when Donald Trump announced that he was running for president, in his announcement, he ignited a firestorm regarding the issue of immigration when he stated:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Now it looks like former Republican presidential frontrunner Jeb Bush has gotten into a bit of trouble regarding immigration when trying to clarify his usage of the pejorative term ‘anchor babies‘, and commenting that:

Jeb_Bush_anchor_baby_comment_response“But on Monday during a visit to Texas near the US border with Mexico, when responding to a question about whether the “anchor baby” row would hurt his ability to win the Hispanic vote, Bush said the situation has more to do with other immigrants.

“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s 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 with birthright citizenship,” Bush said.”

Considering that Bush is a former governor and a the son and brother of former presidents, you would think that he would be a little bit more polished.

What Bush was referring to is what is more commonly known as ‘birth tourism,’ primarily covered in the press (and I’m guessing, most representeted by) well-to-do Chinese expectant mothers visiting the U.S. for the sole purpose of giving birth in the U.S. to guarantee U.S. citizenship for their child and shortly afterwards, return to China. In the future, the parents could have the option to send their child to the U.S. for higher education and at age 21 sponsor them for U.S. citizenship. 8Asians has covered this topic extensively, most recently with the federal raids on ‘birth tourism hotels’ in California.

This of course inflamed (and rightfully so) the Asian American community:

“Bush, conflating the current debate over undocumented immigration with maternity tourism, effectively shifted the focus surrounding the use of the controversial term “anchor babies,” from Hispanics to Asians. … Asian Americans, the fastest-growing racial group in the country, were quick to respond on social media.”

Those on Twitter included of course prominent Asian Americans such as Phil Yu of AngryAsianMan and Kal Penn:


Personally, I support the 14th ammendment, but I am against ‘birth tourism.’ Those may seem like conflicting ideas, but let me explain myself. For most long-term undocumented and their American-born children, they have decided to build a life in the U.S. and contribute to American society. For ‘birth tourists,’ the sole goal is to enter the U.S. under false pretenses usually under a tourist visa and falsely claim that their visit is for tourism, and after giving birth to their child, return home.

What I found interesting is that birthright citizenship is something that is actually somewhat rare globally, and learned in this NPR piece that:

“In 2012, the Law Library of Congress took a comprehensive look at France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. and found that none of those countries automatically give citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrant parents.

The Center for Immigration Studies, which tends to favor more restrictive immigration policies in the U.S., took a worldwide look at the issue in 2010 and found that “only 30 of the world’s 194 countries grant automatic citizenship to children born to illegal aliens.””

Neverthless, I still do believe in birthright citizenship. However, I don’t think when the authors of the 14th ammendment wrote the ammendment, they could have never envisioned the jet age or even the concept of ‘birth tourism.’ The 14th ammendment was written primarily to ensure that freed slaves were guaranted U.S. citizenship after emanicpation and was actually upheld due to a case of Chinese American Wong Kim Ark:

“The reason we have birthright citizenship for everyone born on US soil to begin with is because of the Supreme Court case United States v. Wong Kim Ark, in which an American-born son of Chinese immigrants tried to return to the US after a trip and was told he’d never been an American citizen after all. Wong won his case, which would have greatly upset members of Congress who argued against birthright citizenship back when the 14th Amendment was being debated in 1866 — exactly because (in the words of Sen. Edgar Cowen) California would be “overrun by a flood of immigration of the Mongol race.””

In response to Bush’s comments, a 15-year-old Redondo Beach high school student named Jason Fong created a Twitter response: #MyAsianAmericanStory, a Twitter conversation on the lives and experiences of Asian Americans – which I’ve been seeing a lot of lately on (ironically) Facebook (I’m a much bigger user of Facebook over Twitter). It’s been great to see a lot of Asian Americans getting engaged this early in the presidential race, even if it is in response to something offensive.

The great, great irony of Bush’s remarks is that he himself had commented back in 2013 that if Republicans couldn’t win the Asian American vote, that that was the ‘canary in the coal mine’:

“”Here is a group that has higher intact families, more entrepreneurial, higher than average incomes, higher college graduation rates,” Bush said when describing the reasons the Republican Party should be attractive to Asian Americans.

“Asian Americans are actually the canary in the coal mine, I believe, for Republicans,” Bush continued. “If we have lost connectivity to emerging voters, not because of our policies so much, but because we are not engaged in issues of importance to them, then I think we pay a price.”

Bush’s comments come on the same day that the United States Census Bureau announced Asians were “the nation’s fastest-growing race or ethnic group.”

According to the census, the number of Asian Americans grew by 2.9 percent in 2012, to a total of 18.9 million people. The government agency also announced that more than 60 percent of Asian growth came from international immigration.”

Personally, as a Democrat, I think Trump – and now Bush – have done great harm this early in the presidential race to trying to reach out and win the hearts and minds of Hispanic and Asian Americans.

From a demographics standpoint, the Republicans are going to have a very, very hard time taking back The White House in 2016. When I saw Trump’s recent press conference and him arguing with Univision reporter and anchorman Jorge Ramos and reading this Times article:

“Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, who said during the campaign that undocumented residents should “self-deport” — a position he defended in an interview last November on Univision — got only 27 percent of Latinos’ votes. Republican strategists say their 2016 nominee must get more than 40 percent to win. The last Republican candidate to do so was Mr. [George W.] Bush, who had supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

There is just no way at this pace I can see the Republicans ever getting 40 percent of the Latino vote in November 2016, and add in Asian Americans for swing states in Nevada and Virginia? We’ll see. All I can say is that I’m glad Trump is running for as a Republican for president, and hopefully an independent run, since I think he has almost guaranteed a Democrat will continue to be in The White House for another four more years.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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