What's wrong with "anchor-baby" citizenship (considering the alternatives)?

In this thread, jrodefeld asserts (with approval) that Rand Paul wants to repeal the 14th Amendment, or at least that provision of it which has been interpreted to mean anyone born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen. This is known as jus soli, “right of soil.” The 14th Amendment was one of the Reconstruction Amendments, and the intent, of course, was to extend unconditional citizenship to African-Americans (practically all of whom, at the time, were American-born).

Many immigration opponents complain about this, especially as it makes it possible for a pregnant foreigner to stay in the U.S. just long enough to birth her baby, then claim citizenship for the baby, and eventually get the whole family in, as family reunification is part of our immigration policies at present. The 14th Amendment has been interpreted broadly: A person born abroad of American parents can also claim citizenship by jus sanguinis, right of blood. (I’ve seen commentators in Free Republic claiming Obama is no citizen even if he was born in Hawaii, because his father was foreign, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Now, if jus soli citizenship were abolished, that would leave jus sanguinis only (apart from citizenship by formal naturalization, always a difficult process). That is the situation which, formerly, strictly denied German citizenship to ethnic Turkish “guest-workers” even if they had been born and raised in Germany and knew no other home. (A reform in 2000 eased the naturalization process somewhat.) That is not a fair or just arrangement, and if it had been consistently applied in the U.S. since Independence, citizenship today would be limited to white Anglo-Saxon “Old Americans,” DAR families, descended from white people living here at the time of Independence. IOW, only a minority of the total population would be citizens, as in South Africa under Apartheid. Aren’t a few “anchor babies” preferable to that?

Or does anyone care to suggest some compromise rule?

We don’t have a guest worker program like that, so I don’t see it as a useful comparison.

Why not? Assuming we’re talking about the US and assuming we’re not talking about applying it retroactively (which I don’t think we are).

Well, you’re ignoring the naturalization process, which would be available to any legal immigrant. Also, there is no reason to assume that just because we’ve always done “x” in the past that we should always to “x” in the future. What are you, some kind of :eek: conservative!!!

I think the current situation wrt illegal immigrants lends itself to a rethinking of that policy. What are the pros and cons, and why should we continue this practice in an era when we want to control immigration, not just open the floodgates (which we have wanted to do at various times in the past).

How about the child of permanent residents is granted citizenship if born in the US? That would mean that a child born of someone here on a tourist Visa is not eligible for citizenship, and is instead a citizen of the nation of the birth parents.

I would automatically grant citizenship if either parent on the Birth Certificate is a US Citizen.

I am not familiar with all of the legal ways one can be in the US, but perhaps working from that list would be a compromise. If I were convinced that anchor babies are enough of a threat to the Republic (which I am not), then I would want to exclude those children of illegal immigrants, and tourists.

I don’t think that people like Rand Paul want to get rid of ius soli citizenship entirely. They want it so that it doesn’t apply to the children of people here illegally.

And I don’t know that citizenship by naturalization is such an unusual thing. About 600,000-7000,000 people are naturalized each year, and as of 2005, there were 12.8 million naturalized citizens. In fact, naturalized citizens make up over half of legal immigrants in the US.

I’d amend that to “permanent legal residents”. There’s a lot of people who are here illegally, but seem to want to stay permanently. If we’re going to make new law, let’s try to make sure we don’t have loopholes. Plus, this would keep the spirit of the old amendment intact. The slaves and children of slaves were in the US legally, they just hadn’t been granted citizenship when they came here or were born here.

If one parent is here illegally, then no, citizenship is not automatically granted. If the mother is a US citizen, possibly, but not if she’s here illegally.

I disagree with both Rand Paul and jrodefeld. I don’t have a problem with anchor babies because citizenship, I feel, is simply an easy way to define both boundaries and people living between them.

Politically, it’s useful as a tool to get like-minded people together under the same umbrella. “Americans”, for instance, are a shorthand for “those who share American values” and as such, would be more favorable towards a distinctly “American” point of view whether in politics, morals, economics, etc. That makes it preferable that we get “Americans” together so we can use our combined efforts to push for things favorable to our general point of view

Babies are blank slates though. Making them American by birth starts the process of this sort of nationalization. So I don’t feel that it harms us in any way by keeping the law as it is. People like Paul want to restrict the population even further. Maybe their definition of Americans don’t include anybody with a taint of foreigness. That’s their problem, they think that there’s always going to be this Us vs. Them idea that will make it less likely that Us will succeed over Them when by making more people a part of Us, it gives Us a better chance of accomplishing whatever We put our minds to

(I find YogSosoth’s post to be excellent. Unfortunately, I have nothing further to contribute.)

There are lots of easy things that are not good. Note that the US system is unusual in the world. Most countries do not automatically grant citizenship to anyone born there, and they seem to have little or no difficulty with the issue of citizenship.

That’s an absurd statement with no basis in reality. “People like Paul” don’t want to end immigration, they just want to control it. That would include most people in the US.

Amending this Constitution for this is asinine and won’t happen. It would cause huge problems if this were done, as much of our current law is based on the 14th, which I suspect is an unmentioned desired benefit for most of the people supporting this idea.

Why don’t they just amend the immigration policies, so that family reunification is only valid for citizens and legal residents and the children thereof? Much simpler and solves the problem without creating a huge mess.

Personally, I have no particular problem with anchor babies. I think that 95% of the anti-immigration nonsense is pure xenophobia and racism. Unfortunately, pandering to those “virtues” keeps us from dealing with the 5% that constitutes real problems that need to be resolved.

It’s unamerican to hold children responsible for the actions of their parents. If a person comes here illegally and has a baby, then CBP and ICE have already lost the battle. The time to stop the immigrant was before the baby was born.

Once the baby is born, it’s got as much right to be here as I do. The only reason I’m a citizen here is because I was born and raised here. That’s why most citizens are citizens- by birth. So why should it be different just because of who your parents are and what they’ve done?

The solution is to stop people at the border or stop them from coming at all. Not to revoke citizenship of their children.


So you not only want to change the law that says that a baby born on US soil is a citizen, but you also want to eliminate the law that says that a baby born to a US citizen is a citizen?

But only for the father - if the mother’s a citizen, that’s different.

How in the hell would a U.S. citizen be here illegally, anyway?

Changing this to be inline with the rest of the world would require a cultural shift to be more inline with the rest of the world. We would need a national ID card with teh requisite information (or state IDs with a national standard that contained the requisite info). Currently, in order to prove citizenship all you have to do is present a birth certificate. We’d need sufficient documentation to match this new requirement, and the American populace generally isn’t OK with a national ID (witness the whole REAL-ID ordeal).

John Mace: Assuming the law went into effect tomorrow, for how long would it be effective? That is to say, for how many generations after that baby?

If that baby avoids detection until she can bear children, are HER children still subject to deportation? What about that baby’s grandchildren?

Seems like a bigger can of worms (and bigger social/administrative costs) than simply granting citizenship to the baby.

Let’s try a different angle: We grant the baby US citizenship. But we do not grant the mother/father citizenship/residency simply because the baby has it. We say, “That’s great that your child is a US citizen! Now, take that child back to your own country. When she’s an adult, she’s welcome to come here and enjoy all the benefits of citizenship. But we’d be criminally negligent to allow an unaccompanied minor to just hang out here without a parent or guardian. Since you can’t stay here yourself, you can either take her with you when you go, or you can assign the guardianship of the child to another legal US resident.”

I don’t have a problem with people leaving their children with trusted guardians. No different than when parents get screwed up due to drug abuse and the grandparents are given custody of their children.

Of course, the negative here would be that we’d have US citizens who are growing up outside US culture and education, and when they returned as adults, they might be woefully uninformed of US laws and values… but it seems strange to have to give a US citizen a citizenship test.

Perhaps said children would be guaranteed a slot for naturalization upon their return to the USA? They would still have to take the citizenship test like any other legal immigrant, but they could not be denied the opportunity to do so (due to country quotas, etc.).

Then we get into issues of how long they must be out of the country before losing US residency and needing to take the test … what if they live here and aren’t found out until they are 15? 10? 3? Is it like a work visa, where they have to leave the country for their parents’ country and then re-enter the US and take the citizenship test if their guardianship hasn’t been assigned to another legal resident? … but then, again, what if these children aren’t discovered by INS until they are parents themselves? What happens to their kids?

This is not rocket science. As already noted, most countries do not grant citizenship to anyone born within the borders. Are there going to be people who slip through the cracks? Sure. Would this necessitate a national ID card? Maybe, and that might not be such a bad thing.

That’s not a different angle-- that’s exactly the way things are now. Except we get the sob story of how it’s cruel to separate children from their parents and we shouldn’t make US citizens leave the country.

Like John Mace said, that’s current US policy.

BTW, it’s not clear that we’d need to amend the constitution, although an legislative attempt to define what it means that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” in order to exclude the children of people here illegal would almost certainly have to face a court challenge.

It is interesting though, that most of the Western Hemisphere does.

(as well as several European countries offering something pretty close, and several more countries having right-of-return. If I wished to, I could relatively easily gain UK citizenship, as my grandmother was born in the UK)

Yes, I noticed that. And it makes sense if you’re trying to build your population, which most of this hemisphere was trying to do at one time or another. Given that we have people lining up to yin yang in order to gain residency, I don’t see that as an important issue for the US.

I’ll ask again - why the need to change the definition of citizenship? Why not just amend immigration policy? The current policy is only about 45 years old and is certainly much easier to update than trying for a constitutional amendment (or an end-run attempt with legislation to get around the Constitution).

Besides, just as I said before - this is not really a major issue for anyone except those looking for FEAR THE FOREIGNERS publicity.

The “anchor baby” has to reach 21 before they can sponsor parents, and then only if they can prove financial ability to support the parents. Parents of anchor babies who are in the country illegally are not eligible. They can wait out a 3- to 10-year ban and try again from the end of the line, though. Having an anchor baby does not prevent deportation of the parents or other family members.

Family Reunification

It would appear that “chain migration”, especially fraudulently claiming non-relatives as family members, is a much larger problem.

Chain Migration
Fraud in the Refugee Reunification Program

Right, well, except that as has been mentioned

I’m just saying, make family reunification explicitly NOT part of our immigration policies. If people are really that concerned about all those damn babies and their tagalong mothers, then write in language as part of the bill that keeping family units together does not supersede national security and the need to keep illegal immigrants out.