An immigration blog about policy and personal stories
All Citizenship Podcasts Status

Is the term ‘anchor baby’ the new N word?

January 8, 2011

Is the term ‘anchor baby’ the new N word?

Anchor Baby onesie
Is the term ‘anchor baby’ the new N word?

The immigration debate has recently provided an upsurge in the popularity of an old and politically incorrect term—the anchor baby. It refers to the notion that foreign family members can gain citizenship through U.S.-born children.

Of course, the baby must turn 18 or 21, earn a certain amount of money and wait about 10 more years before putting a relative (who has to be living outside the United States) on the path to citizenship. And let’s not forget about the 88,000 parents of U.S. citizen children who have been deported in the last decade. But what critics call “chain migration” still scares people.

On Wednesday, both federal and state lawmakers introduced legislation to end automatic citizenship for children born to undocumented parents in the United States.

Federal Foes of Jus Soli

Rep. Steve King insisted the bill he introduced is a more accurate interpretation of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which addresses birthright citizenship: “The current practice of extending U.S. citizenship to hundreds of thousands of anchor babies every year arises from the misapplication of the Constitution’s citizenship clause and creates an incentive for illegal aliens to cross our border.”

Rep. Gary Miller, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, referred to automatic birthright citizenship of undocumented immigrants as a “loophole” that “undermines the intention of the 14th Amendment, rewards those that have recklessly broken our nation’s immigration laws and costs American taxpayers billions annually.”

State Supporters of Strict Citizenship Standards

The model legislation introduced by the five state lawmakers proposed defining state citizenship based on having at least one U.S. citizen parent. Another measure would require cooperating states to provide distinctive birth certificates for babies born to two undocumented parents.

Daryl Metcalfe, a Pennsylvania state representative who participated in unveiling the legislation, said the measures would protect Americans rather than “foreign invaders.”

“Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are crossing U.S. borders to give birth and exploit their child as an anchor baby, as a means to obtain residency, access taxpayer-funded benefits and steal American jobs for themselves and for their families,” Metcalfe said.

Terms of Enragement

Arizona American Civil Liberties Union Board President and immigration activist Roberto Reveles called the idea of changing the Constitution “nonsensical, irrational and immoral.” He also rejects the use of the term “anchor babies,” which he considers dehumanizing.

“It’s abhorrent to me that respected members of the United States Congress are taking up this terminology,” he said. “It’s very frightening to see because this is the way you can justify to yourself that whatever you do to these people, after all, they’re less than human beings.”

To hear an excerpt from an interview about birthright citizenship with Roberto Reveles, please click here.

You can also hear the full version of the interview, in which Reveles discusses immigration raids in Arizona, SB 1070, racial profiling and his experience as the son of Mexican immigrants.

Immigration Conversation

The goal of Immigration Conversation is to cover U.S. immigration policy and the personal stories of immigrants. Whether readers are for, against or somewhere in the middle about immigration, this blog aims to humanize the immigration experience.
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *