Is the anchor baby policy sustainable? - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Is the anchor baby policy sustainable?

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Posted: Monday, August 30, 2010 5:25 pm

Advocates of a stabilized U.S. population recently received an endorsement from three unlikely sources.

Senators John Kyl, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell, Republican proponents of comprehensive immigration reform, all spoke out against birthright citizenship. The practice allows children born on U.S. soil to become automatic citizens regardless of the immigration status of their mother.

McConnell wants to hold Congressional hearings on whether the policy commonly referred to as “anchor babies,” is sustainable.

Kyl, the Senate Republican Whip, supports McConnell’s suggestion that birthright citizenship be reviewed. Citing the costs illegal aliens generate for state governments who must pay for their education and health care, Kyl during a CBS Face the Nation interview said: “The question is, if both parents are here illegally, should there be a reward for their illegal behavior?”

But Graham, referring to America’s bursting population, best summed up the birthright citizenship folly by calling it “a mistake.” 

Said Graham: “People come here to have babies. They come here to drop a child. It’s called ‘drop and leave.’ To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child is automatically an American citizen. That shouldn’t be the case. That attracts people here for all the wrong reasons.”

“I’m a practical guy, but when you go forward, I don’t want 20 million more [immigrants] 20 years from now,” concluded Graham.

In the House, Representative Lamar Smith leads the charge behind H.R. 1868, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009 that former Congressman Nathan Deal introduced.

Smith has long argued, correctly, that granting automatic citizenship to anyone born on American soil is a misinterpretation of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

And Smith is right. Congress willfully ignores the 14th Amendment’s first sentence that states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

An illegal alien from Mexico, for example, is not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States but of Mexico.  

The new “American,” while only one person, opens the door for many others who could be added to the U.S. population.

The U.S.-born child becomes an American anchor that allows his parents and minor siblings to remain. Eventually, as a result of chain migration, his grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and all of their children can legally follow. One anchor baby may result in 50 new residents.

The newborn, whose mother may have come to the United States last week, is a citizen as fully as I who was born in California more than six decades ago and has paid taxes for more than half a century.

Since the estimates of illegal immigrants living in the United States range from 12 million to 38 million and the exact number eludes even the Census Bureau, it’s hard to calculate how many children (and automatic citizens) are born each year. But unless the gift of citizenship is abolished, many millions more will take advantage of it.

That birthright citizenship, and its long term consequences, have Congress’ attention is encouraging to environmentally concerned Americans. Congress has finally caught up with more progressive nations.

Over the past 25 years, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and France, among other countries, have modified jus soli (place of birth determines citizenship status).

Most countries have added to their birthright citizenship requirement that at least one parent be a legal resident or that a parent has lived a minimum number of years in the country of birth.

On its face, birthright citizenship is absurd and, as Graham pointed out, an easy target for abuse. Yet Congress has willfully refused to honestly confront it—until now. Here’s an example of what’s at stake. People often ask me how long I have advocated for population stabilization and sensible immigration laws.

Sometimes I answer: “More than 25 years.” Usually I reply: “More than 50 million people ago.”

Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns - mostly about immigration and related social issues - since 1990. He is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization, CAPSweb.org.

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