Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is not just leading in national polls, he's also playing a significant role in pushing the immigration debate further to the right — this time getting under the skin of a candidate previously unswayed by a field of hardliners: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Speaking on Bill Bennett’s conservative radio show “Morning in America” Wednesday, Bush went as far as using the derogatory term "anchor baby" to describe his support for tighter enforcement on children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents.
"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,” Bush said in the interview, which was written about by POLITICO. “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.”
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Bush notably broke from Trump's position, stopping short of calling for a constitutional amendment to end the birthright citizenship automatically granted to anyone born in the United States. But it's strong language for Bush, who is fluent in Spanish and married to a Mexican woman. He has stood apart from other candidates in the GOP field for adopting a more welcoming tone toward undocumented immigrants and supporting a legal status for those with firm roots in the United States. He notably said in the past that immigrants who come to the United States illegally do so as an "act of love
" toward their families — a position that has consistently been skewered by Trump in recent weeks. During a town hall speech in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Trump said the comment makes Bush "un-electable."
Virtually every other 2016 Republican candidate has also been sucked into Trump's vortex, forced to address issues on immigration traditionally left to fringe elements of the Republican Party.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz became the final presidential hopeful to say whether he supported ending birthright citizenship. Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, was unequivocal: "Absolutely," he said on the Michael Medved radio show Wednesday.
“We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally,” Cruz said.