Monday, April 4, 2011

More on the the Phrase "Anchor Babies"

I recently posted something about how the phrase "anchor babies" constitutes hate speech.  Here is further analysis of the phrase.

The term "anchor babies" is, in my view, a pejorative similar in certain ways to "illegals", "Illegal aliens", and worse.  It is regularly employed by restrictionists in the modern immigration debate.  See, e.g., Kevin Alexander Gray, 14th Amendment Nullification Threatens Core of Citizenship, CHARLESTON GAZETTE (WV), Sept. 2, 2010, at 4A (criticizing Senator Lindsey Graham’s threat to revisit birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment because of undocumented immigrants having “anchor babies” or, as he put it, the “drop and leave”); Thomas Elias, More Fiction Than Fact About “Anchor Babies” Born in U.S., THE SALINAS CALIFORNIAN, Aug. 30, 2010 (discussing the misconceptions surrounding “anchor babies” or “maternity tourism,” a term used by groups attempting to abolish birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment); Rex W. Huppke, Terror Babies, Anchor Babies, and Beanie Babies, Oh My!, CHI. TRIB., Aug. 24, 2010 (criticizing concern over “anchor babies” and a new fear espoused by politicians of “terror babies”).

“Opponents of birthright citizenship use the term `anchor babies’ to refer to the U.S.-born, U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents.” Stephen H. Legomsky, Portraits of the Undocumented Immigrant: A Dialogue, 44 GA. L. REV. 65, 86 n.52 (2009); see Nicole Newman, Note, Birthright Citizenship: The Fourteenth Amendment’s Continuing Protection Against an American Caste System, 28 B.C. THIRD WORLD L.J. 437, 441 (2008) (“[The] threat of chain migration, pejoratively called the ‘anchor baby’ phenomenon, is the most inflammatory rhetoric that opponents of birthright citizenship employ.”) (footnote omitted); see also Keith Aoki, Arizona – Pick on Someone Your Own Size, S.F. CHRON., June 17, 2010, at A-16 (analyzing critically an Arizona proposal to not issue birth certificates to “anchor babies”).

Concerns with “anchor babies,” allegedly able to sponsor the lawful immigration of their undocumented parents, have contributed to the recent call for the abolition of birthright citizenship guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. See Julia Preston, Senator Picks Up the Fight Against Citizenship at Birth, INT’L HERALD TRIB., Aug. 9, 2010, at 4. There is a racial component to the “anchor babies” slur, which plays on racial, gender, and class stereotypes about Latina/os, see Gebe Martinez, Ann Garcia & Jessica Arons, Birthright Citizenship Debate Is a Thinly Veiled Attack on Immigrant Mothers, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS (Aug. 18, 2010), just as there is to the stereotypical African American “welfare queen,” see Catherine R. Albiston & Laura Beth Nielsen, Welfare Queens and Other Fairy Tales: Welfare Reform and Unconstitutional Reproductive Controls, 38 HOWARD L.J. 473, 476-88 (1995) (analyzing the racialized images of Black women in the debate over welfare and welfare reform in the United States); Angela Onwuachi-Willig, The Return of the Ring: Welfare Reform's Marriage Cure as the Revival of Post-Bellum Control, 93 CAL. L. REV. 1647, 1665-73 (2005) (same).


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