Monday, August 22, 2011

New research punctures “anchor babies” myth

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It’s another one of those perennial Republican attacks against illegal immigration (itself a thin cover for smearing immigrants in general): that foreigners – specifically from south of the border – are passing through in droves into the US, plopping out “anchor babies”, and then leaving, confident that their naturally-born-US-citizen kids will provide them easy access to the American Dream once they’re old enough some two decades later. After all, those illegals are so different from you and I that they don’t even care about their children any more than about their potential to grant them an open door to living the easy life at the expense of the American taxpayer. (Or something like that.)

Well, about that. It turns out that research into the matter – actual research, not whatever passes for investigation on Planet Wingnuttia – has revealed that the problem isn’t exactly as prominent as right-wing demagogues make it out to be. That is to say, it’s a complete fantasy:

A new analysis by the Arizona Republic suggests that the phenomenon of “birth tourism” — non U.S. citizens who come to the U.S. to give birth so that their children will be born Americans—may not be the widespread phenomenon that some U.S. politicians suggest.

Less than 2 percent of babies born last year in the border state of Arizona had non-resident mothers, the story said. Those numbers don’t distinguish between women who were living in other U.S. states and those who came from other countries.

The most recent national figures, which also include women studying at U.S. universities and international visitors, are even smaller, at about 0.2 percent, even though it notes that the figure has increased in recent years.

Wow. “[L]ess than 2 percent”! “0.2 percent”! Those numbers are obviously high enough to warrant all the demagogic fear-mongering over this urgent threat to the purity of US citizenship, right?

Actually, here’s what David Leopold, the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, has to say about it [link added]:

“I might be impressed if hospitals all over the country were crowded with women coming in from all over the world to have babies here,” Leopold said. “I don’t see that. This is a myth. It’s another scare tactic to try to attack the 14th Amendment of the Constitution for no reason at all.”

That sound you just heard was Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R-TX) head exploding.

(via @todayspolitics)