Saturday, August 28, 2010




No group is so hated by the many Americans who resent illegal immigration as so-called “anchor babies” born in the United States to illegal immigrant women.

They’re not reviled for anything they’ve done, but because of their parents’ actions and the services they might eventually get. And because once they’re born, it can be more difficult to deport their parents.

“There is an orchestrated effort by (the parents) to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we’ve created,” maintains Arizona Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce, author of his state’s landmark SB 1070, the law that seeks to compel that police demand documents of anyone they deal with who might possibly be in America illegally.

Added Frosty Wooldridge, writing on the Web site of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, “Maternity tourism is just the beginning of the silliness of birthright citizenship that goes to the babies of foreign students…and the millions who break the law to criminally enter this country.”

But any state bill denying birthright citizenship to anyone born in this country will most likely end up on the legal scrapheap because the idea flies in the face of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which since 1868 has conferred citizenship on birth to anyone born here.

This has led major Republican politicians like South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham and House Minority Leader John Boehner to call for hearings on changing the 14th Amendment.

Anti-birthright advocates contend accurately the amendment was designed to assure citizenship and equal rights to former slaves. But its language is not so limited.

The anti-birthright forces also say “anchor babies” contribute little and cost a lot, from hospital expenses at the start through public schooling and much more. They’ve claimed the 14th amendment invites both “maternity tourism” and the creation of “terror babies,” children allegedly bred to commit acts of terror on this country, their future access guaranteed by their status as citizens.

The problem with all these claims is that they run counter to most known facts about “anchor babies.” Infants born to undocumented mothers account for about 8 percent of all U.S. births, but no one knows how many of their fathers might have legal status, according to a new study from the Pew Hispanic Center. More than 80 percent of those new mothers had been in this country at least one year, with more than half here at least three years and a large but unspecified percentage here 10 years or more. Not exactly tourists, so if there is maternity tourism, it can’t be widespread.

What’s more, immigrant advocates say, plenty of so-called anchor babies grow up to be major contributors to American life. “Many children born here of persons who are not legal residents become leading citizens when they grow up,” said Margaret Stock, a West Point professor, lawyer and retired military police colonel, also a frequent expert witness in immigration cases. As a classic example, she cites Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, sometimes touted as a possible Republican presidential candidate. “Gov. Jindal’s mother was here on a student visa when he was born.”

Anyone born in that circumstance would be denied citizenship under a proposed federal Birthright Citizenship Act, first introduced in Congress last year by the recently-resigned Republican Rep. Nathan Deal, now running for governor of Georgia. It would limit automatic citizenship to babies with at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, a legal permanent resident (green card holder) or a foreign citizen on active military duty in the U.S. armed forces.

That could cause myriad problems, say immigrant advocates. For one thing, it would mean that every new parent would have to produce a birth certificate of his or her own to get citizenship for a newborn. If none could be found, the infant would have to apply for what is called “derivative citizenship.”

“That process is very complex and fraught with error and passing a law like this would necessitate setting up a new bureaucracy at great expense,” Bill Ong Hing, a law professor at the University of San Francisco, told a press conference the other day. “More important, though, is that these kids are to a large extent our future.”

His implied question: Do we really want to make these people hate America from the very beginning of their lives?

Then there’s the fact that no one has proven “maternity tourism” or having “anchor babies” is a main cause of illegal immigration. “The anti-illegal immigration people are using this right now to keep people riled up even as actual border crossings are at their lowest point in decades and steadily dropping,” said Stock.

It’s true: the southern border has become less permeable under President Obama than under any other recent president.

All of which makes talk of “anchor babies” little more than pure political claptrap, designed to swing votes rightward in this midterm election year.

Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit


  1. Illegals' children are a huge financial burden on taxpayers according to California county records. So you can get off your bandwagon and get to reality. Here is the cost for just 2 counties which doesn't even include the cost to schools!!

    In 2009, San Bernardino County spent $64 million providing welfare benefits to U.S.-born children of illegal aliens.

    According to county records, during a typical month, close to 15,000 offspring of illegal aliens received either welfare payments or food stamps in 2009. Over 11,000 of those children received both forms of assistance.

    In 2009, a county supervisor made public the staggering amount which the taxpayers spend on illegal aliens, living in L.A. County. Last June alone, the county paid out $48 million to the children of illegal aliens, an increase of $10 million over June 2007.

    $26 million of that total came in the form of food stamps, while another $22 million was given to the illegal alien families in welfare checks.

    In 2003, the American Southwest saw 77 hospitals enter bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills incurred by illegal aliens. A staggering 84 hospitals in California alone, have been forced to close their doors because of the growing crisis. Hospitals which manage to remain open, pass the unpaid costs onto the rest of us, which translates into more out-of-pocket expenses and higher insurance premiums for Americans.

    The 14th amendment was intended for freed slaves, not illegals!! I certainly hope this is corrected by Congress!!

  2. I love how these "pro-anchor baby" people always point to Bobby Jindal as an anchor baby because his mother was here on a student visa. She was in a Phd program for nuclear scientists. There is no comparison between that family and the illegals streaming across the border with a 6th grade education or less who choose to thieve from the taxpayers with their anchor baby children.

  3. I hope our politicians will wake up to the reality that anchor babies is a huge burden to the taxpayers. Words had spread not only to Hispanics but to all countries that if you come and give birth in the US, the government will give full support to these children. Some would come as tourist, hide their pregnancy when they board the plane and give birth to a US citizen. In the school district where i work i see it first hand how thousands of children we are supporting. We call them our dependents but unfortunately we can't claim them when we file our taxes. I also children that have nursing care 16 hours per day even if they are stable enough to be cared by their non working mother. Can we train their parents to provide the care like we do for the patients who pay for their private insurance. It's time for America to wake up. It's about time that we act on this big problem. These illegals thinks we are stupid for letting them abuse us.I don't know how they could balance the budget if don't solve this mess.

  4. We can't take away automatic citizenship without destroying the Constitution. We CAN require people who apply for public assistance(for their children) show proof that they are here legally. Stop allowing illegals to submit applications for handouts. Take it a step further and make it a CRIME to be illegal and trying to submit an application for assistance on the behalf of ANYONE! Including their U.S. born children.