(REUTERS) - US Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said on Monday it was ludicrous to describe his use of the term "anchor babies" as offensive to immigrants, saying his original comments referred more to Asians coming to the United States to give birth.
Bush's remarks came at a news conference in McAllen, Texas, near the border with Mexico, where he was asked whether using the "anchor babies" term in a radio interview last week could affect his ability to win Hispanic votes.
On Tuesday, Bush defended his use of the term and his record on immigration.
"Look my record is pretty clear. I'm married to a Mexican-American United States Citizen. I'm immersed in the culture. I'm bilingual. I feel like I'm bicultural. I'm the proud of diversity of my own family. My record, not just yesterday, but my lifetime, is one that people can look at. I was talking about a narrow-casted system of fraud where people are bringing pregnant women in, to have babies to get birthright citizenship. I support birthright citizenship, by the way. I support it. I think that's a noble thing we should do," Bush said.
"I'm 62 years old. When I was 17 years old I fell in love with Columba Garnica Bush, and it's going to be really hard for me to be lectured to by anybody about the politics of immigration," Bush added.
The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution grants citizenship to any child born on US soil, regardless of parentage.
Immigration critics sometimes use "anchor babies" to describe US-born children of illegal immigrants, usually from Latin America. Immigration groups say the phrase is offensive.
Republicans have identified illegal immigration as a key topic for primary voters, but they want to avoid driving away Latino voters whose support they will need against the eventual Democratic nominee.
Some Republicans seeking the 2016 presidential nomination, including Donald Trump, have criticised across-the-board birthright citizenship.