The so-called “anchor babies” are legitimate citizens of the United States by virtue of the 14th Amendment. As such, they are entitled to all the protections afforded by law to the citizens of the country. There is also no truth to the allegation that the 14th Amendment is being abused by illegal immigrants because a law as explicit as the 14th Amendment could not be an object of abuse.
“Anchor babies” are children of illegal immigrants who were born in the country.
According to the first provision of the 14th Amendment, they are considered U.S. citizens because of the circumstance of their birth. They have been called anchor babies because, being U.S. citizens, some people believe that they are the reason why their families are able to continue living illegally in the country. This is why they are now cast in a bad light because Americans who are against illegal immigration believe that their parents who entered the country illegally are purposely producing anchor babies to legitimize their stay in the country. Others claim that already pregnant women from third world countries purposely enter the United States to deliver their babies there so that their offspring would acquire a U.S. citizenship and either enable them to stay in the country permanently or start a chain migration later. What aggravates the situation is the allegation hurled against anchor babies that as U.S. citizens entitled to certain rights, they enable their parents to exploit the full range of social and medical services available to the low-income people, thereby turning out to be an additional burden to American taxpayers (Ramirez).
More than 350,000 anchor babies are estimated to be born every year in the country. Critics claim that these anchor babies are becoming a heavy burden to the country in terms of the health and educational costs that they entail. For instance, California spent more than $215 million for delivery expenses alone for 74,987 anchor babies in 1994 (Federation for American Immigration Reform). This situation, according to a report filed by Madeleine Pelner Cosman, forced 84 hospitals in California to terminate their operation in 2005 “as a direct result of the rising number of illegal aliens and their non-reimbursed tax on the system” (WorldNetDaily.com).
On the other hand, according to the Urban Institute, the total expenses incurred in educating anchor babies in 1993 reached approximately $3.1 billion. That estimate was made only in seven states where illegal aliens were found to be in high concentration. Projecting an increase of 1.3 million in the population of illegal aliens in said seven states for the year 2000, educational cost for the year should have been about $5 billion. Urban Institute said that that cost should increase once the supplementary expenses required by the bilingual education system would be added (FAIR).
Aside from the added burden that anchor babies are causing American taxpayers, opponents of illegal immigration are bewailing the fact that this practice of granting automatic citizenship to every baby born in the country appears to have developed into a system of rewarding violators of the immigration laws of the land. Detractors of the system think this unusual of the United States. They believe that this has encouraged people from developing countries to abuse the 14th Amendment. Australia and the United Kingdom have been cited as countries that have been doing the same but stopped the practice during the 1980’s when they became aware of similar abuses. Ireland, on the other hand, stopped the practice via a national voting on June 11, 2004, the last of the European Union members to do so (FAIR).
These so-called anchor babies, however, are far from being a burden. As legitimate citizens of the country, they are only getting what is rightfully theirs. They deserve equal protection under the law. Just as the government is answerable to the rest of the citizenry, so is it answerable to them. If the unemployed and the low-income sector of the American population are entitled to some relief from the government, they are no different. They should not be singled out, or discriminated against, just because their parents are illegal immigrants. As a matter of fact, most of these anchor babies are children of Latino families whom President Bush once referred to as the source of “cheap labor from south of the border [who] do jobs Americans aren’t willing to do” (WorldNetDaily.com). It follows that although these parents of the so-called anchor babies are illegal immigrants, since they are employed as cheap labor, they, too, are not totally a burden to American taxpayers. Although immaterial to the birthright of anchor babies, it should nevertheless be pointed out here that everybody who buys anything in this country is being subjected to commodity tax. In other words, illegal workers may not be paying their income taxes but they are taxed for every purchase they make. They could therefore be considered contributors to the country’s economic activities in their own little way.
The claim that anchor babies “anchor” their illegal immigrant families and therefore allow them to continue living illegally in the country is nothing but a misconception. The truth is, although considered U.S. citizens by birth, anchor babies are not an excuse for their parents to evade deportation once they are discovered by the concerned governmental agencies. It only needs a diligent effort on the part of immigration officials to root them out and initiate deportation proceedings, anchor babies or not. Immigration experts maintain that “having a child does little to help an illegal immigrant avoid deportation, achieve legal status or gain government services for themselves.” Immigration lawyers believe that many Americans are misled by their ignorance of the immigration laws of the country. They also explain that although the children of illegal immigrants who were born in the country are “entitled to health care and food stamps,” the parents do not enjoy the same benefits. These same experts believe that illegal immigrants enter the country looking for work, not social services – which is chiefly why they have been dubbed as a source of “cheap labor.” These anchor babies could not start a chain migration, as claimed, because under the immigration laws, they have to wait until they reach the age of twenty-one before they can even sponsor the members of their families for legal immigration (Ramirez).
Opponents of illegal immigration also claim that the 14th Amendment is being abused. However, the amendment is very explicit. The first provision states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside” (The U.S. Constitution Online).
It is very clear. “Anchor babies” were born in the country under the jurisdiction of the United States. The constitution itself defines jurisdiction as “the limits or territory within which authority may be exercised” (The U.S. Constitution Online). Some people say that the 14th Amendment should not be interpreted literally. They maintain that the original intent of the 14th Amendment as articulated by Senator Jacob Howard in 1866 should be taken into account in interpreting the amendment (Wall). However, original intents are only pertinent and should be taken into consideration if the law itself is vague – which is not the case as far as the 14th Amendment is concerned.
“Anchor babies” should not be dragged into the current debate involving illegal immigration. In the first place, they were not party to the formulation of the 14th Amendment which granted them their citizenship rights. Second, they were in no position to influence the circumstances of their birth. Whether their parents are actually using them as “anchors,” or whether there is truth to the claim that they cost taxpayers hard-earned money through medicare and medicaid, these “anchor babies” are legitimate citizens of the country who are entitled to all the benefits and advantages granted by such a citizenship. If the authors of the 14th Amendment failed to make the law as explicit as necessary, or if they failed to make allowances for the changing times, “anchor babies” should not be blamed. Until such time that the 14th Amendment is amended, they will remain legitimate citizens of the country.
Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Anchor Babies: The Children of Illegal
Aliens.” June 2004. 25 July 2007.
Ramirez, Rosa. “Babies at center of immigration controversy.” ScrippNews. 25 July 2007.
The U.S. Constitution Online. “U.S. Constitution – Amendment 14.” 25 July 2007.
Wall, Allan. “Anchor Babies.” FrontPageMagazine.com. 26 April 2001. 25 July 2007.
WorldNetDaily.com. “Illegal aliens threated U.S. medical system.” 13 March 2005.
25 July 2007. <http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43275>
Cite this “Anchor Babies”
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