‘Anchor’ Babies: No More U.S. Citizenship
The U.S. should pass H.R. 1868—the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009—so all babies born on U.S. soil are no longer automatically made citizens. Pro or con?
Pro: Stop Population Overgrowth
Maternity tourism is just the beginning of the silliness of birthright citizenship that goes to the babies of foreign students, temporary foreign workers, international travelers—and the millions who break the law to criminally enter this country.
All told, federal law (not the Constitution) gives citizenship to an estimated minimum 400,000 babies each year who donâ€™t have even one parent who is a U.S. citizen or permanent legal immigrant. This is a huge impediment to efforts to stabilize U.S. population to allow for environmental sustainability. And it is a great incentive for more illegal immigration.
Each of these babies becomes an anchor who retards deportation of unlawfully present parents—and who eventually will be an anchor for entire families and villages as chain migration leads to the immigration of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Birthright citizenship is an antiquated practice that has been abandoned by nearly all wealthy nations and emerging nations (recently India and Indonesia) and by the majority of poor nations.
The Supreme Court has ruled only that the Constitution requires babies of legal immigrants be U.S. citizens. It is time to join the modern world, pass H.R. 1868 (Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009), and limit citizenship to babies who have at least one parent who is a citizen or legal immigrant.
Con: Babies Aren’t the Issue
Scaling back the 14th Amendmentâ€™s definition of birthright citizenship, a cornerstone of civil rights in our country, would compound the problem of illegal immigration instead of addressing it.
Proposals to do this are based on the concern that immigrants give birth to children on U.S. soil for the purpose of using their citizenship to stay here. Even if there was evidence that this is common—and there isnâ€™t—it would be largely beside the point: Itâ€™s indisputable that most people come here illegally because they desperately want work, employers are thrilled to provide it, and government usually turns a blind eye.
In addition to probably being un-Constitutional, H.R. 1868 wouldn’t alter that arrangement. Instead, denying citizenship to children would simply increase the number of people here who live outside the law—and itâ€™s unrealistic to think that theyâ€™d be deported or driven out en masse. It would also raise countless practical questions. Would hospitals have to decide which mothers are here legally? Would the children of those children, and their grandchildren, also be deemed illegal? If so, would the resulting modern-day caste system help, or heighten, the concerns that native-born workers have about immigrant labor?
The best way to reduce illegal immigration is by addressing both its supply and demand, through realistic enforcement and better legal channels that meet business needs without causing unfair wage competition. Ending birthright citizenship would just change the subject.