— -- Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has ignited a firestorm once again -- saying his use of the controversial term "anchor babies" is "more related to Asian people."
Bush, who traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border today, has refused to back down from using the term, a derogatory phrase used to refer to the children of undocumented immigrants born on American soil. Both he and Donald Trump have drawn fire for the usage.
At a campaign event in McAllen, Texas today, Bush was asked repeatedly by both the English and Spanish-language press about his usage of the term "anchor babies" in a radio interview last week.
He has defended the term and tried to clarify today, saying that it is “ludicrous” that anyone says his usage of “anchor babies” is derogatory. He also added that he was actually referring to the "birth tourism" industry.
"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, and having children, in that organized effort, taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship,” said Bush, adding, "I support the 14th amendment.”
Bush, whose immigration policy advocates legal status for undocumented immigrants, says that he is “immersed” in the immigrant experience, adding in Spanish, "I am proudly married to a Mexican-American woman, my children are Hispanic. I have been involved in Hispanic life."
Bush's statement has already been seized on by staff for his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic National Committee.
“This latest comment from Bush shows just how out of touch he is," said K.J. Bagchi, the DNC's Director of Asian American and Pacific Islander Engagement. "The only thing worse than Jeb Bush's words about immigrant families may be his policies towards them.”
And the National Council of Asian-Pacific Americans also condemned "the use of the derogatory term "anchor babies"". They issued a statement today:
"From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and legislative attempts to overturn United States v. Wong Kim Ark to now calling us “anchor babies,” Asian American and Pacific Islander communities continue to be discriminated against as part of larger anti-immigrant rhetoric."
Campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told ABC News in a statement:
"Governor Bush was highlighting that “birth tourism” is a well-reported serious and growing problem, one that the Department of Homeland Security has been grappling with addressing," she said in a statement.
"The next President must have a plan to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws. Governor Bush is the only candidate in the entire presidential field who has presented a serious, conservative, comprehensive reform agenda to fix our broken immigration system."
This event was supposed to be safe territory for Bush, long a proponent for broad immigration reform. This comes after a week of coming under fire for his repeated usage of the phrase and, after trading barbs with Trump, who also made a trip to the border last month.
Earlier today, Trump told "Fox and Friends," "I think it's great he's going to the border, I think he'll ... find out it's not an act of love.”
Bush today responded to Trump saying that the real estate mogul's plan to build a wall and end birthright citizenship just isn’t realistic.
"Mr. Trump's plans are not grounded on conservative principles, they would cost hundreds of billions of dollars," he said, adding "it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, it will violate people's civil liberties.”
The latest Gallup poll shows that despite Trump's claims that he will "win the Latino vote," Trump has the lowest favorability numbers among Hispanics out of all the Republican candidates. Bush, meanwhile, has seen a jump in his favorability numbers and leads the GOP pack.