The hard right and other fringe elements in the US bemoan the fact that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution confers automatic US Citizenship upon any child born in the United States. They do this selectively of course and have coined the phrase ‘Anchor Baby‘ to describe foreign immigrants both illegal and even temporary legal immigrants on non immigrant or tourist visas who have children born in the US with the hope that the child will be able to keep the parents (and others) in the US legally.
There is one major flaw in this argument which is of course overlooked by those that espouse this theory in that they are fundamentally misunderstanding US Immigration law. Of course people can choose to stay in the US illegally and risk the consequences to all aspects of their life, but you don’t need to have a baby to do that. In US Immigration law that child can only legally sponsor his parents once he has reached 21 and even then based on current Immigration wait times that still may be a further 3-5 year wait at least not to mention thousands of dollars in costs.
So in terms of both a timing efficiency and cost efficient way of trying to get legal long term status in the US, this is a very poor route to go down with lots of uncertainty, large costs and potentially a 25 year wait. On top of that, the medical costs of having a baby in the US are very large, particularly without proper health insurance, and if the illegal immigrant or overstay visa parents stay on in the US after the child is born waiting for the age of 21 of their child, then b/c of their non-compliant actions they face the real risk of the parental sponsorship petition being denied.
The situation described above is in reality a very small proportion of people and tends to focus more on lower socioeconomic, impoverished and persecuted foreigners to the US. All of these groups are common targets of the staunchly anti-immigrant brigade already.
However on the higher socioeconomic end of the spectrum, we have a different recent phenomenon largely being taken advantage by Chinese nationals but also other wealthier foreigners as well. Due to China’s strict one child policy it means that many couples who want more children are forced to seek other legal means to have other biological children. Surrogacy is illegal in China, however there are many agencies and willing surrogate mothers in the US both legally able and willing to logistically organize and carry to term the child of Chinese parents.
Generally when surrogacy occurs in the US it is an expensive proposition resulting in $100,000 or more total bill for the parents when just the mandatory costs of medical, any agency fees, stipend/loss of earnings compensation to surrogate, legal fees and delivery costs are factored in. For a Chinese national couple this can easily magnify to double or triple that amount with increased travel costs, magnified legal and medical expenses and additional immigration issues.
Now the original intention of this was to circumvent the Chinese one child policy and surrogacy prohibition but now this is seen as almost a down payment on the child’s future now having full access to US living, social, education, political and other benefits in the future as well as potentially being able to sponsor the parents over in retirement years. Many upper middle class Chinese families uncertain over the medium term future of the country with potential political unrest and changing rules around financial and asset ownership see countries like the US as a safer option if necessary for maintaing their wealth and lifestyle if necessary.
They view this as a cheaper and more desirable option all round than the EB-5 Green Card / Investment Visa route, whereby a minimum of $500,000 and up to $2 Million is required to be invested in the US with other conditions met. The interesting thing is that at least from a political and thus media perspective less is ever mentioned about this end of the US Immigration system b/c it ultimately involves money, wealthy influential people, business interests and lobby groups.
Therefore a US Senator or Congressman who is directly/indirectly getting campaign contributions from entities and people connected to these people and/or has investments themselves in China and other parts of the world does not want to disrupt the hands that feed it. Additionally with the large sums of money the medical industry, immigration attorney, travel companies, surrogacy agencies, surrogate mothers and others who help facilitate all of this, no-one wants to see this top while they are making a growing large stream of revenue of each year. Many US surrogate mothers, deliver multiple children for the same Chinese parents.
Ultimately this is an area of US Immigration that will largely not be reformed and currently has no alteration or regulation in the current US Immigration Reform Act of 2013 passed by the Senate. Unless the money flowing towards an opposite outcome increases, noone will want to alter the status quo.
Now whether there is anything wrong with this at all is a debate on many fronts and there is a strong argument to say all of this is perfectly fine morally, legally and in the interests of the US as no-one directly loses out as a result of this seemingly. However in the medium term, the loser in the end are the current immigrants, non-immigrants, illegal immigrants and prospective visitors and immigrants to the US because policy and quotas are not made in a vacuum.
If there are evermore Chinese nationals being naturalized in the US under this scheme that indirectly might lengthen the wait for Chinese students studying in the US on the F-1 visa hoping to get an H-1B visa to work and eventually a Green Card via the EB-2 or EB-3 visas. This might add years to their wait, hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and lost earnings and importantly a change in their deisred life path.