“Anchor Babies” – Some higher thoughts.

With every recession or crisis seems to come increased anti-immigrant sentiment.

I have blogged my thoughts on being careful about such sentiments – examining why we would come to wish to exclude members of our community.

When times were booming, the anti-immigrant sentiment seemed lower…now it seems higher.

Here are some more thoughts from the August 21, 2010 edition of The Economist, page 24:

Only about a sixth of the countries in the world practice "birthright citizenship". The US adopted it originally to end slavery, making anyone born in the country "subject to the jurisidiction thereof". Sadly, this was also a clause also then meant to exclude sovereign Native-American tribes and is today still used to exempt the children of foreign diplomats from becoming American citizens.

By 1982, the US Supreme Court had ruled that people who entered illegally were still subject to the "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" language and standard. A recent Pew Hispanic Centre study found taht 8.0% of the births in America are to illegal immigrant parents.

The "Anchor Baby" syndrome may be a false alarm. ONly about 4,000 people per year escape deportation because they ahve children who are citizens; the foreign parents of Americans can only be considered for citizenship once their child turns 21.

Many wealthy Asian and Latin American women do have "Anchor Babies" – but do it legally with a Visa. A firm in China charges $14,750 for three month stays in America to give birth – but the mother has to arrange her own Visa – per the WAshington Post.

Changing the rules to exclude Anchor Babies could be difficult. It may require an amendment to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. A majority of two-thirds of the House and Senate must ratify a constitutional amendment along with three-quarters of the state legislatures.

Legislation by Congress to exclude from citizenship babies born to illegal immigrants would conflict with 1982 US Supreme Court precedent.

The anti-"Anchor Baby" provisions seem unlikely to go anywhere.

But this debate is potentially socially damaging. Do we want to futher talk about creating two classes of citizens?

Has anybody read Dr. Suess recently? Ever heard of the Star-Bellied Snitches?

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