Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is not softening his immigration rhetoric.
The former Florida governor doubled down on his use of the term “anchor baby” on Thursday, saying the he does not believe it’s an offensive reference to the children of undocumented immigrants born in the U.S.
“If there’s another term that I come up with, I’m happy to hear it,” Bush told reporters after holding a town hall in New Hampshire.
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton responded on Twitter within minutes, offering up suggestions for alternative terms.
Bush’s remarks come after he was dragged into the immigration debate by Donald Trump, who made waves this week by saying he wanted to eliminate birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants and deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Bush, who has said he opposes ending birthright citizenship, noted Thursday that changing the Fourteenth Amendment would impact “talented” people like fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, whose parents were not U.S. citizens when they gave birth to the future senator and presidential candidate.
“If people are here legally, they have a visa and they have a child who’s born here, I think that they ought to be American citizens,” Bush said. “People like Marco Rubio, by the way. That’s how he came.”
But it’s his use of the term “anchor baby” while appearing on Bill Bennett’s conservative radio show “Morning in America” Wednesday that’s making news.
“If there’s abuse, people are bringing — pregnant women are coming in to have babies simply because they can do it, then there ought to be greater enforcement,” he said. “That’s [the] legitimate side of this. Better enforcement so that you don’t have these, you know, ‘anchor babies,’ as they’re described, coming into the country.”