Immigration has become a hotly contested issue with strong feeling on each side. Unfortunately, we have allowed our emotions to get the best of us, at the expense of an honest debate. No where is this more clear than with the recent coining of the phrase anchor babies. The term anchor baby refers to a mother who takes advantage of our countries long-standing belief in birth right citizenship by sneaking across the border and having her child here. Birth right citizenship is the Constitutional guarantee that when a person is born within the US they are automatically a citizen, even if their parents entered illegally.
The term anchor baby was created to infer that illegal immigrants have found a way around our immigration laws by having a baby here, who is now a citizen. As a citizen it is falsely claimed that this anchor baby subsequently petitions to bring the rest of the family here. It is implied that once here this family will now take jobs from US citizens or go on welfare and take our tax dollars. The term anchor baby is simply a myth, created to stir up anti immigrant ideology for political gain. The truth is a US citizen baby cannot help an illegal parent’s immigration. This is because no one can petition for another family member’s green card until they are 21 years old.
Because a so-called anchor baby cannot gain a legal status even for their mother until they have turned 21 years old there is little truth in the terminology anchor baby, if anything it should be called anchor young adult. But this is also misleading, if the mother somehow remains in the US illegally without being caught and deported until the child is 21 that child cannot petition for the mother unless the mother leaves the country. Once the mother leaves the country a 10 year bar from reentering is triggered as punishment for her unlawful presence. This means the anchor baby would be 31 years of age when they were able to get their mother or any other family member a green card to the US. Thus, the premise that there is such thing as an anchor baby is patently false.
Moreover, birth right citizenship has been a staple of our country for many decades and it is clearly and explicitly stated in the Constitution. It is entirely possible without it our country would be completely different and many individuals here now would not be. In addition, there would be serious humanitarian issues if ICE was rounding up infants and young children and deporting them to a country they have never been.
In sum, the term anchor baby was created to stir human passions and to make our citizenry feel that our system of laws is being exploited. There is no question that our country has serious immigration problems and that something needs to be done to fix this but creating false terminology is not the answer.
Guest Post Author
Nicklaus J. Misiti