In news likely to intensify the debate over birthright citizenship, a new study estimates that 8 percent of the 4.3 million babies born in the U.S. in 2008 had at least one parent who was an illegal immigrant. Undocumented immigrants represent just 4 percent of the adult population, but, according to demographers who conducted the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center's report, they are typically younger and have higher fertility rates than the general population. Some Republicans say it's time to change the 14th Amendment, which has been interpreted as a guarantee of citizenship to everyone born in the U.S., because they say immigrants from Mexico and other countries are abusing the law by sneaking into the country illegally to have children that qualify for U.S. benefits. Does this study help their case? (Watch a Russia Today report about the immigration stat)
Yes, this proves "anchor babies" are a huge problem: Try arguing against reexamining birthright citizenship now, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Eight percent — that means 430,000 babies a year are getting citizenship even though their parents, contrary to the wording of the 14th Amendment, aren't "subject to the jurisdiction" of U.S. laws. "Add in Mom and Dad, and suddenly we have close to a million illegal immigrants that the U.S. would have a mighty difficult time deporting — in one year." How is that not a problem?
"Pew: 8 percent of American births to illegals?"
Sorry, these parents aren't here just to have babies: These aren't "anchor babies," says Kate Pickert at Time. The authors of the study say that "well over 80 percent" of the illegal immigrants who had babies in the U.S. in 2008 had been in the country for more than a year already. Besides, the term itself is bogus — the parents of these kids "can get federal funds to help pay for health care and food for their citizen children, but most have no easier way to gain citizenship themselves."
"Dispelling 'anchor baby' myths"
The U.S. needs these tiny citizens: Instead of trying to kick out these babies, we should be "celebrating them with birthday parties," says Cynthia Tucker in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "With sinking birth rates and longer lifespans, much of the industrialized world grows grayer every day." The Republicans "pandering" to rising anti-immigrant fervor don't seem to realize that "the nation needs younger workers" to keep Social Security and Medicare afloat as baby boomers retire.
"The US needs those babies born to illegal moms"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
Subscribe to the Week