Anchor Baby

“Any serious immigration reform considered in the next Congress should revisit the concept of birthright citizenship (namely that all children born on U.S. soil are citizens, regardless of their parents’ status), or what is sometimes referred to as the ‘anchor baby’ issue,” writes Heritage Foundation’s Genevieve Wood. She gives the following rationale:

  • Birthright citizenship incentivizes illegal immigrants to have children on U.S. soil in hopes it will allow them, the parents, to gain legal status;
  • It fuels “chain migration,” the process whereby one legal family member, once 21 years of age, is able to apply to bring in parents, siblings and in-laws. According to one study, 747,413 (or 66.1%) of the 1,130,818 immigrants granted legal permanent residency in 2009 were family-sponsored immigrants.
  • It is costly to the U.S. taxpayer. While illegal immigrants themselves do not qualify for welfare, they can obtain Medicaid and food stamps on behalf of their U.S.-born children. (One study found that “nationwide, 40% of illegal alien-headed households receive some type of welfare.”)
  • And last but not least, birthright citizenship, as currently understood, is arguably unconstitutional.

Wood explains the constitutional issue this way:

For America’s first 100-plus years, the idea that just because someone was born on U.S. soil made them a U.S. citizen was disavowed. but a Supreme Court decision in 1898 (yes, there was judicial activism back then, too) that broadly and wrongly interpreted the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause changed all that.

The original intent of the Citizenship Clause was to ensure former slaves were given citizenship status. It was never inteded to give such status to children born here because their parents were living her as foreign ambassadors, diplomats or consuls, or simply because their non-citizen parents(s) had a baby while visiting or residing, legal or otherwise, in the U.S.

Heritage Foundation legal scholar Hans von Spakovsky puts it this way:

It is just plain wrong to claim that the children born of parents temporarily in the country as students or tourists are automatically U.S. citizens. They do not meet the 14th Amendment’s jurisdictional allegiance obligations. They are, in fact, subject to the political jurisdiction (and allegiance) of the country of their parents. The same applies to children of illegal aliens because children born in the Unites State to foreign citizens are citizens of their parents’ home country.


Source: Not All Kids Born in the US Should Be Made Citizens, Genevieve Wood, The Daily Signal, The Heritage Foundation