LatinaLista — There are a lot of misperceptions about undocumented immigrants but there is one that is acutely grievous. It is the notion that pregnant immigrants make it a point to come to this country while they’re pregnant just to have their babies. Then they are said to use the baby as a bargaining chip to stay on this side of the border.
Among hardline conservatives, the popular term describing these children is “anchor baby.”
The majority of the stories I’ve ever heard of immigrant women who did make the trek over to the U.S. while in their ninth month didn’t do it for the sake of staying in the U.S.. Rather, they did it as a way to provide opportunities for their children down the road when it came to education. In fact, most of these women crossed the border legally.
In Mexico, where class still has a part in dictating who can and cannot go to school, the American educational system is an attractive carrot to entice people to do something they otherwise wouldn’t do.
However, it is true there are undocumented immigrant women who do give birth in the United States and stay — only because they had already been living in this country for quite a while, sometimes years before the baby is born, and had already chosen the U.S. as their new home to raise their family.
In these instances, where the women can actually establish residency and they and their families can prove they are a part of an organized community — church, community activities, organizations, etc. — the notion that these children are “anchor babies” is ludicrous. It also exposes this term for what it is — a descriptor meant to demean and leave the impression that these children are not worthy of anything from the U.S.
While I agree that women who just come to have their children on the U.S. side of the border, without having true residency, should not have their children be given U.S. citizenship if that is clearly their only intent, I don’t agree that citizenship should be deprived for the other children for whom the U.S. is home.
The ones who risk living their lives in this country every day as undocumented.
Because SB 1070 passed in Arizona, supporters now feel emboldened to extend their punitive reach in punishing undocumented immigrants further by proposing the end to birthright citizenship.
What this has to do with border security or taking jobs away from out-of-work Americans is anybody’s guess. Yet, what it clearly has to do with is as racist as it comes.
It’s no accident that in this country’s past the only other times that such a measure was considered and/or adopted was in 1857 when children of parents who were slaves of African descent were denied U.S. citizenship, otherwise known as the “Dred Scott” decision and in 1898:
…the Supreme Court rejected arguments that the son of a Chinese national – who was forbidden under the Chinese Exclusion Act from ever becoming U.S. citizens – should be deprived of citizenship because of his parents’ status. Subsequent decisions have upheld this standard.
To deny birthright citizenship to the children of immigrants, regardless of their status, who have proven that they want to live and stay in the United States would seem a much weaker argument than to bestow U.S. citizenship on the children of immigrant women who only want the status of U.S. citizenship.
When looked at it from this perspective, birthright citizenship to women who only come to give birth and return to their native countries would not only mean poor border women, but all those wealthy elitists and celebrities from countries all over the globe who jet in and pay exorbitant hospital fees for just wanting their children to have the status of U.S. citizenship.
Chances are these people do have residences in the United States, probably mansions, but if they can’t show they are integral members of their local communities and spend the majority of their time in this country — before even getting pregnant — then they too should be denied what everyone in this country now enjoys, regardless of economic status.
Would they be denied? Well, a few things are certain: money, fame and prestige speak volumes more than working-class, impoverished and unknown.
If there is one immigration battle that needs to be totally discarded, it’s denying birthright citizenship.
This is an argument that has the potential to resurrect the ugly past of this country and devalue the birthright of all who are proud to call themselves Americans.