Illegal immigration is a prominent issue in the United States today, but labels tend to force negative stigmas onto people. President Trump labeled Mexicans poorly by saying, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Creating an elusive and divisive stigma related to people from Mexico is a horrible action to commit, especially when backed by zero factual data. The same President felt like it was necessary to ask why the USA is accepting immigrants from “shithole countries,” referring to immigrant from Haiti and some nations in Africa. He went on to ask why we don’t receive immigrants from Norway instead. The illusion that is being stated time and time again is that people of color, minorities, are less welcome in the USA than people of lighter skin tone – white people. A simple example of this is the anchor babies vs. birth tourism phenomenon.
The term “anchor babies” has always held a negative connotation. It implies that a child’s only purpose was to be born in the USA, and in a sense, anchor their and their parent’s futures within the USA. A friendlier definition is that “anchor babies” refers to a child born in a country that grants birthright citizenships without restrictions, particularly when this provides a benefit to family members who are also looking for legal citizenship/residency within the same country. Some examples of “anchor babies” involve situations where parents will leave their country of birth seeking asylum and bringing their families along. In some situations, asylum is not always granted. When that occurs, the family now must live in disarray, living illegally in a country that they do not belong to but doing the best they can to prosper. Children, in turn, grow up in the US picking up customs and essentially becoming the ideal US citizen, yet they are not treated as such.
Another example of an anchor baby situation would be when a man from Guatemala and a woman from Colombia come to the US in pursuit of the land of the opportunity. They meet in the US, and then have children, and then one of those children writes this article. According to the Pew Research Center, from 2001-2014, the share of all US births to unauthorized immigrants has been roughly the same, varying from 7%-9%. According to the same source, 1 out of every 12 newborns in the USA can be classified as a so-called “anchor baby”.
Anchor babies are much more common than we think, sarcastically surprising considering the USA is a country of immigrants. The Migration Policy Institute states that about half a million parents have been deported leaving a similar amount of US citizen children to cope without the help of their parents. Could you imagine losing your parents due to unreasonable legislature? Families for Freedom claims that every year, about 200,000 non-citizens are deported, stripped from their families. This action, in turn, leaves split families, single parent households, and forces psychological and financial burdens on those US citizen children. Being an “anchor baby” sounds like more of a hardship than a benefit. Being afraid that any day could be the day that your family structure is broken does not sound like a good way to live.
On the other side of the coin, we have a similar situation, with different treatment and without the negative stigma. Enter “birth tourism”. Birth tourism is the action of traveling to another country legally for the sole purpose of giving birth in that country, so the child can claim their birthright citizenship. Birthright citizenship is important because it grants the child with benefits the country offers like access to public schooling, healthcare, and especially sponsorship for the parents in the future. Examples of “birth tourism” include mainland Chinese citizens traveling to Hong Kong to give birth in order for their child to gain the right to abode which gives the child the power to leave the country whenever they please. Currently, Russian mothers have been traveling to Miami to birth their children along with boasting about their endeavors on social media. According to NBCNews, in Moscow, it is a status symbol to have a Miami-born baby. Another example of current birth tourism is the rapid influx of Chinese mothers-to-be traveling to Southern California to give birth and avoid China’s child policies (one-child policy ended but there are still regulations in place). Birth tourism does not only occur in the United States, it occurs with most countries that offer birthright citizenship. Place like Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom have altered their immigration laws so now they will only grant citizenship to a child if at least one parent was born in that country or at least a legal permanent resident who had resided in the country for several years. The United States has an issue; however, they have two names for the same thing, yet one has a negative connotation. The State of Florida has said that births within the state by all foreign nationals who live outside the USA have jumped 200% since 200, sounds like a tremendous spike!
The concept is simple, a mother-to-be travels to the United States legally or illegally and has a child here, granting him/her their US birthright citizenship. The child now gets to live, go to school, and work within the USA and once he/she turns 21, they will be able to sponsor their parents for green cards.
Both “anchor babies” and “birth tourists” do the same thing for the same reason, so why does the term “anchor babies” make me cringe? Why are “anchor babies” chastised and berated and forced to prove their worth?
The Pew Research Center estimates 36,000 children out of 295,000 born in the USA every year, are born to “birth tourists”. So why are there two terms for the same thing? Let’s mention the elephant in the room, the majority of “birth tourists” come from European decent and are predominately White while “anchor babies” tend to come from impoverished areas and are mostly of Latino decent. Even though we live in the year 2018, sometimes the United States of America acts like they are still leaving in the 1800’s. It’s time for change, and relinquishing poor children from carrying such a heavy burden on their shoulders. A burden they did not ask to carry, and a burden none of us would willingly abide to. It’s time for change.