Children Are The Future: Anchor Babies

The Wall Street Journal notes a study that confirms what many have suspected. The babies of illegal immigrants represent a significant percentage of the births in the US:
One in 12 babies born in the U.S. in 2008 were offspring of illegal immigrants, according to a new study, an estimate that could inflame the debate over birthright citizenship.

Undocumented immigrants make up slightly more than 4% of the U.S. adult population. However, their babies represented twice that share, or 8%, of all births on U.S. soil in 2008, according to the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center's report

"Unauthorized immigrants are younger than the rest of the population, are more likely to be married and have higher fertility rates than the rest of the population," said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at Pew in Washington, D.C.

The report, based on Pew's analysis of the Census Bureau's March 2009 Current Population Survey, also found that the lion's share, or 79%, of the 5.1 million children of illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. in 2009 were born in the country and are therefore citizens.
For all of the "racist Great Satan" insults that the US receives, the fact is that we have the most generous immigration policy in the world. Our Constitution provides that any person born in the US is a citizen, simple as that. You can talk about intent all you want about how times have changed, and how the drafters of the 14th Amendment did not imagine an impoverished globalized welfare class fleeing failed states for the developed world, but the fact is that a plain reading of the Constitution supports the view that babies born in the US are citizens.

Still, the great throwing-up-of-hands that has accompanied this issue is evidence of how little people in power want to deal with it. Many on the Right have righteously denounced the repeal of birthright citizenship on the ground that we don't want to withdraw US citizenship from people who already have it through birth. Come on! No one's talking about taking citizenship away, any more than they are talking about mass deportations. They're talking about stopping a practice that is being abused to our disadvantage. Surely there's a constitutional compromise. In fact, other developed nations have reformed their birthright citizenship rules in a way that is fair and reflects modern realities. Will Wilkinson breaks it down
This issue really does have an interesting flavor of American exceptionalism to it. Other than our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, the U.S. is the only OECD country with a pure jus soli citizenship rule. It seems that a great deal of confusion is caused by the fact that even thinky Americans are by and large ignorant of other countries’ citizenship laws.


Between 26 January 1949 and 19 August 1986, except for children born to diplomats, any person born in Australia acquired Australian citizenship by birth automatically.

From 20 August 1986 a person born in Australia acquired Australian citizenship by birth only if at least one parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

A child born in Australia (and who is not otherwise an Australian citizen) and who lives in Australia automatically acquires Australian citizenship on his or her 10th birthday, if the child has not been granted or otherwise acquired Australian citizenship in the meantime. This occurs automatically by operation of law, and applies irrespective of the immigration status of the child or his/her parents.

FWIW, the percentage of Australia’s population born in another country ishigher than any OECD country other than the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (which is about the size of Des Moines).

Australia's method seems eminently reasonable. Existing citizens are grandfathered in, while more recent arrivals need to be born to at least one Australian citizen. Is there any doubt that the 19th century drafters of the 14th Amendment would have come up with a similar system if they had lived in a world where the US border was a few hours plane ride, rather than a weeks-long ocean crossing, away?

The fact is that even the Little Satan, Israel, has been wrestling with the anchor baby phenomenon. If you are a developed nation with a middle class lifestyle and a representative democracy, there are literally billions of people who will do anything to get in the door, using their children and your compassion - who among us would separate children from their parents? - as a wedge. We don't have to surrender to this, and the solution does not have to be that fraught and difficult.

Best Retirement Invesments Auto Search