Jeb Bush August 14
Jeb Bush under fire for 'anchor babies' comment
01:35 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Jeb Bush was trying to dig himself out from a pile of criticism for using the term “anchor babies.” But his comments at a press conference Monday only brought heaps of new outrage.

Defending himself from charges that he had used a derogatory term stereotyping Hispanics, he told the cameras that “anchor babies” were “frankly more related to Asian people.”

The comment sparked outrage from Asian-American politicians, interest groups and Twitter users.

Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner who himself has landed in controversy for inflammatory remarks about Latinos, wrote on Twitter: “Asians are very offended that JEB said that anchor babies applies to them as a way to be more politically correct to hispanics. A mess!”

But there is a real if little-documented practice of so-called birth tourism from Asia, where foreign nationals come to the United States for the purpose of ensuring their children become American citizens. The phrase “anchor babies” implies that the parents of these children are also hoping to obtain legal status through them.

Here are five questions explaining this controversy.

1. Is Bush right about Asian “anchor babies”?

Bush’s comments – as controversial as they were – are partially based on truth.

There is a very real phenomenon of parents from Asian countries coming to the United States while they are expecting a baby with the intent of securing American citizenship for their offspring.

But there are no reliable statistics on how widespread the “maternity tourism” trend is and which foreign nationals participate most in the phenomenon in the United States.

In countries like China, companies and agents arrange for parents to travel to the U.S. and act as liaisons with so-called “birth houses” here. At these facilities, the Asian parents are given various means of support around the birth of their child, including hospital visits and shopping.

Gary Chodorow, an immigration lawyer based in China, said he has seen a “very obvious” boom in recent years of Chinese parents seeking to give birth in the U.S. Many of his clients look for his guidance on navigating U.S. immigration laws.

“In China, this is a big business,” Chodorow said. “Oftentimes, people who have participated in this and had a child in the U.S. will have serious immigration problems.