Is An 'Anchor Baby' Born Every Minute and a Half?

... it can be difficult to tell the difference between poor planning and "birth tourism."

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The subject of “anchor babies” is being hotly debated.  Some are calling for an end to birthright citizenship, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born on American soil.  Still others call the efforts to end it “shameful.”  Others contend it’s never been legal and enforcement of existing laws under the 14th Amendment are what’s required.

What’s indisputable is that there does seem to be a large number of these so-called “anchor babies” being born.  From the Daley Gator:

One out of about every twelve newborns in the United States is an anchor baby, or the U.S.-born child of illegal migrants, according to a Pew Research Center study.

This means that one anchor baby is delivered every 93 seconds, based on the 2008 census data analyzed by the Pew.

The huge number of foreign children born on U.S. soil – roughly 340,000 per year – is also an economic imposition on Americans, who pay taxes to help raise, feed, and educate those children of illegal migrants.

Eventually, those 340,000 U.S.-born foreign children can join the U.S. workforce and compete for wages against the roughly four million children of U.S. parents that enter the slow-growing U.S. economy each year.

Only 28 percent of likely U.S. voters believe that children born to illegal migrants in this country should automatically be American citizens, according to a 2011 Rasmussen Reports survey. In fact, the proposal is so unpopular that even Jeb Bush, who favors large-scale immigration, has criticized pregnant foreigners who grab citizenship for their kids by flying into the country posing as tourists. Bush described the practice as “fraud,” and asserted that, “Frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country – having children in that organized effort, taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship”

The growing industry of “birth tourism” is so large that even California’s government recently cracked down on the illegal – but rarely suppressed – trade.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell the difference between poor planning and “birth tourism.”  This may be why the practice is rarely prosecuted.  Since the presumption of innocence is inherent in the American legal system, it becomes difficult to distinguish between a mistake and a truly malicious effort to use our system against us.

While efforts are in play at the moment to end this practice, the number of “anchor babies” in the United States poses an interesting problem when faced with immigration reform efforts.  How do you deport American citizens (if indeed, that’s what they are) for the actions of their parents?  On the other hand, how many of these children may grow up drawing on the American social welfare system, costing taxpayers untold millions of dollars?

More on Jeb Bush and the birthright debate here.

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  1. ThomasW Reply

    Unfortunately, the Pew study uses some wierd criteria. Probably don’t affect the overall result though.

    The Pew study counts children of “US born parents” as those where both parents are US born. If one parent is an illegal immigrant but the other isn’t, the child is counted under “unauthorized immigrant parents”.

    Thus, A US born citizen who marries an immigrant is thus counted as having immigrant children. If a US born woman goes overseas on vacation, has a one night stand with a foreign citizen and as a result has a child, that’s counted as the child of “unauthorized immigrant parents” since the father, having never entered the US, is not a “legal immigrant”.

    This probably doesn’t make a significant difference in the results of the study however it says the Pew results are skewed toward over-counting children of illegal immigrants. I also note this is from 2010, though I doubt the basic numbers have changed much in the mean time.