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There’s been a lot of perfectly justifiable talk about Donald Trump pulling the entire Republican field to the right on immigration policy, and particularly the “birthright citizenship” issue that was mainly of interest to nativist cranks until recently.

But even among those candidates who are not following Trump into the fever swamps, there’s a palpable effect. Check out these strange remarks from Jeb Bush (via Politico’s Eliza Collins):

Jeb Bush doesn’t want birthright citizenship to go away, but he is calling for stronger enforcement for people who abuse it.

“If there’s abuse, if 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 on Bill Bennett’s conservative radio show, “Morning in America” Wednesday. “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.”

Hmmm. How’s that going to work, Jeb? It’s not like these children enter the world marked “anchor babies” (a loaded and derogatory term, of course). Are we going to have enhanced interrogation of undocumented women bearing children as to their intent when they crossed that border? Are we making a constitutional right contingent on somebody’s opinion of a parent’s alleged “abuse?”

These are the sort of questions I suspect Trump himself will address to Bush when he gets around to it on his list of Jebbie-baiting remarks. If Bush is going to be the “responsible adult” in the GOP field, he really needs to avoid saying things that indicate he’d really like to get down there in the playpen.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.