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Are 'anchor babies' a phantom menace? 'Anchor babies' have been a big GOP talking point this week. But does the rhetoric reflect reality?

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By Peter GrierAugust 21, 2015 11:25 AM

Are “anchor babies” a real problem in American society?

That question comes up because “anchor babies” have become a big talking point in the Republican presidential campaign. Some GOP hopefuls invoke the phrase to explain their opposition to birthright citizenship, under which children born on US soil are automatically American citizens.

Donald Trump got this contretemps rolling earlier this week by complaining that pregnant Mexican women “move over here for a couple of days” to the US to give birth. Maybe these “anchor babies” shouldn’t be counted as citizens, said Mr. Trump, “because a lot of people don’t think they are.”

Recommended: What do you know about Donald Trump?

Trump’s immigration plan vowed an end to birthright citizenship. Many of his Republican rivals, including Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Scott Walker (maybe) support such a position. Jeb Bush does not, but he expressed exasperation with those who consider the phrase “anchor baby” to be pejorative.

“No, it isn’t,” said Mr. Bush in New Hampshire this week.

However, many immigration experts consider “anchor babies” a bit of a phantom menace. It’s true there is some degree of birth tourism in the US, in which relatively wealthy foreigners travel legally to the US to give birth and ensure their kids a US passport. The lure of citizenship for their future children may play an unquantifiable role in the decision of some immigrants to enter the US illegally.

But under current law, parents aren’t “anchored” in America if they have citizen children. They’re just as likely to be deported as any other undocumented worker. And evidence points to economic prospects as the overwhelming factor driving immigration decisions.

Failing to put the term “anchor babies” in this larger context “exaggerates the alleged problem and uses inflammatory rhetoric to obscure legitimate policy questions,” concluded PolitiFact.com when it studies this question in depth in 2010.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

First, some numbers. It is true that unauthorized immigrants give birth to a large number of children within US borders. According to a Pew Research study released in 2010, about 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the US in 2008 were the offspring of undocumented parents.

But how many of these parents moved to the US “for a couple of days” for the purpose of giving birth, as Donald Trump contends?

Not many. The study’s authors estimate that well over 80 percent of the births in question were the children of parents who had been in the United States for more than a year.

There are parent who travel to the US expressly to deliver their children in US hospitals. There are clinics and hotels that openly solicit this business. But as PolitFact noted, this generally involves wealthy individuals who travel legally. Some are Hispanic, but many, if not most, are Asian. That’s a different and more limited policy problem than the one implied by the current use of the “anchor baby” phrase.

Nor do these children actually provide any legal “anchor.” Under existing law, the birth of a child in the US does not give parents the right to stay in the country until that child reaches the age of majority. That’s 21.

Even then, the process isn’t easy. A child who reaches 21 can then apply for a visa or green card for their parent to reside in America. That will be approved only if the parents can prove they’ve been living legally outside the US. If they’ve been in the shadows for decade, raising their kids, they’re required to wait longer. If the parent has lived illegally in the US for a year or greater, they can’t reenter the US for a decade. So the total wait time to a green card for the undocumented parent of a child born in the US can stretch up to 31 years.

“It’s not a practical immigration strategy,” writes Janell Ross in The Fix blog at The Washington Post, paraphrasing an immigration expert.

Some groups that support tighter immigration restrictions maintain that judges and other US officials may be less likely to hold and deport the undocumented parents of citizen kids. That’s certainly possible.

There’s evidence that plenty of these parents are indeed being deported, however. In the first half of 2011, US officials removed more than 46,000 parents of US-born children from the country, according to federal data compiled by the pro-immigrant group Race Forward, formerly the Applied Research Center.

What happens to the kids? For that 2011 time frame, at least 5,100 children whose parents had been deported were living in foster care, according to this data.

Finally, however, there is the matter of a possible lure that is perhaps not reflective of reality. Groups that support tighter immigration restrictions say that Mexican adults may believe that having US citizen children will anchor them in US society, whether that is actually the case or not.

“This is the perception in the minds of the illegal alien parents, usually mothers, that somehow the presence of a US-born baby will be helpful to parents in immigration proceedings,” says a 2011 report from the Center for Immigration Studies.

As the CIS report notes, it’s impossible to count the number of such parents. It’s certainly possible some exist.

But the biggest draw for illegal immigration is probably jobs, not birthright citizenship. The flow of unauthorized immigrants generally swells and shrinks in concert with economic conditions in the US, according to Pew Research data.

For instance, the number of such immigrants in America rose sharply during the relatively prosperous years of the 1990s and early 2000s. It then dropped sharply during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, mainly due to a drop in immigrants from Mexico.

In recent years, the undocumented immigration population has leveled off, according to Pew. That would indicate that the net influx of the unauthorized is zero.

GOP is purposely inciting hatred against people of Mexican or Latin American origin, while all along it appears Asians have the highest birth citizenship in America.

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What happens to the kids? For that 2011 time frame, at least 5,100 children whose parents had been deported were living in foster care, according to this data.

So this means that those 5,100 who were being supported by their parents are now being supported by the state (as states support foster parents). Hence, deporting the parents has made these children dependent on state funds, the very thing we need to prove will not happen to our finace's.......Interesting.

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What happens to the kids? For that 2011 time frame, at least 5,100 children whose parents had been deported were living in foster care, according to this data.

So this means that those 5,100 who were being supported by their parents are now being supported by the state (as states support foster parents). Hence, deporting the parents has made these children dependent on state funds, the very thing we need to prove will not happen to our finace's.......Interesting.

Very good point. That's why I believe this should be done away with. They tell you assets count, but you can't use the only house you have. It's insane.

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this label has different meanings, depending on country of origin of parents:

1. Mexican - we can stay after giving birth in USA

2. Chinese - is long term retirement program for parents - they move/immigrate to USA after child finishes USA college, undergrad 4 year. Many monies moved 18 months prior to filing the I-130.


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this label has different meanings, depending on country of origin of parents:

1. Mexican - we can stay after giving birth in USA

2. Chinese - is long term retirement program for parents - they move/immigrate to USA after child finishes USA college, undergrad 4 year. Many monies moved 18 months prior to filing the I-130.

The Asians who are using pregnancy tourism are still just as bad. To think you would be an advocate to skipping the line after the hockey stick you and many others went through and are currently going through to get spouses, fiances and step children into this country, legally, is despicable.

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an advocate? me? No Janelle2002, I'm not an advocate of birth tourism. Apologies if'n you think so.

Quite the opposite. I not write of it here, often, but I do write elsewhere !


Sometimes my language usage seems confusing - please feel free to 'read it twice', just in case !
Ya know, you can find the answer to your question with the advanced search tool, when using a PC? Ditch the handphone, come back later on a PC, and try again.

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Whoa Nelly ! Want NVC Info? see http://www.visajourney.com/wiki/index.php/NVC_Process

Congratulations on your approval ! We All Applaud your accomplishment with Most Wonderful Kissies !

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The Asians who are using pregnancy tourism are still just as bad. To think you would be an advocate to skipping the line after the hockey stick you and many others went through and are currently going through to get spouses, fiances and step children into this country, legally, is despicable.

I'm afraid if you think the problem is the bypassing of the immigration process then you are missing the real problem.

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The Asians who are using pregnancy tourism are still just as bad. To think you would be an advocate to skipping the line after the hockey stick you and many others went through and are currently going through to get spouses, fiances and step children into this country, legally, is despicable.

So you agree we should send the illegals home . and the ones that stay should never be granted citizenship


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It's equally despicable. These Chinese anchor babies will become a much bigger burden when they come back when the reach maturity pulling along their entire families. Six or half-a-dozen...

I'm not trying to justify what the Asians (mainly the Chinese) are doing because I think it's wrong, however the Asians that are going to the US to have babies are not staying in the US and creating a burden on the social benefit system that needy people rely on. These are mostly folks with money who pay a high price to travel, deliver a baby and then leave the US. They do it as an investment for the future. These aren't low income farmers that are doing this they are educated, professional couples with the means.

The burden on the system is the lower income people who travel to the US illegally for reasons of searching out a better future but many times it is done at the expense of the US taxpayer.


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The Asians who are using pregnancy tourism are still just as bad. To think you would be an advocate to skipping the line after the hockey stick you and many others went through and are currently going through to get spouses, fiances and step children into this country, legally, is despicable.

The stuff I bolded above, in your reply to me,

proves up to me (and anyone else who can read),

that

you've not been reading my stuff here.

Why would you posit that I am an advocate for the crup you've described?

Draw swords, lass, tis time to apologize or battle. You choose, which.

I am highly offended, almost to the point of labeling you a 'dolt'. I'm not there yet, but wow.


Sometimes my language usage seems confusing - please feel free to 'read it twice', just in case !
Ya know, you can find the answer to your question with the advanced search tool, when using a PC? Ditch the handphone, come back later on a PC, and try again.

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Some interesting points...

http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/30/news/china-moms-birth-tourism-fraud/

How far Chinese moms will go to have U.S. babies

Some are even willing to commit visa fraud, lie to immigration officers and pay tens of thousands of dollars to shady middlemen -- as long as the payoff is a U.S. passport for their newborn.

An underground "birth tourism" network that stretches from the U.S. to China has sprung up to cater to growing numbers of Chinese mothers who travel stateside to give birth, according to affidavits filed by federal law enforcement officers. The moms are lured by laws that grant U.S. citizenship to anyone born on American soil.

Lie on your visa application

Pregnant women from China are allowed to vacation in the U.S., after securing a travel visa from the U.S. government. But if someone misrepresents the reason for visiting, that's visa fraud.

DHS documents describe one Chinese woman, and her partner, who claimed to be traveling to the U.S. for tourism on their visa application. A U.S. consular officer concluded after an interview that they were "credible tourists" traveling for fun, according to DHS.

Leave without paying hospital bills

Some You Win clients allegedly defrauded hospitals by not paying what they owe. They "either fail to pay anything or pay a greatly-reduced amount designed for indigent or low income patients lacking insurance," according to DHS.

Records obtained by the agency show the couple found to be "credible tourists" paid only $4,080 of a $28,845.29 medical bill from the California hospital where their child was born. The expectant Chinese mother told the hospital that she was unemployed -- though she had listed a job on her original visa application.

http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/08/news/china-birth-tourism/index.html?iid=EL

For He, who gave birth last year, a U.S. passport for her baby means access to better education opportunities. Foreign status opens the door to exclusive international schools in Beijing, where she lives with her husband, and the option for the child to study abroad for high school and college.

For others, like Miao, giving birth in the U.S. can also be a way to skirt China's one-child policy. Although the rules have been relaxed slightly, not every couple is eligible to have multiple children.

Miao estimates she spent nearly $30,000 to have her second child in the U.S. Like He, she plans to send her daughter to study in the U.S., perhaps as early as elementary school.

To make the process easier, Miao enlisted an agency that helped her find a short-term rental in a Los Angeles neighborhood popular with pregnant Chinese.

Related: Rich Chinese overwhelm U.S. visa program

A number of such agencies exist, with websites and ads touting elaborate birth packages at "maternity hotels" that include luxury accommodation, meals, chauffeurs, doctor appointments and more. The websites even explain how to secure a passport for a newborn and where to apply for a visa.

While many mothers give birth in the Lower 48, U.S. territories like the Northern Mariana Islands are also popular. The islands are close to China, and there is a visa waiver program for Chinese tourists.

Birth tourism has exploded so quickly there that its congressman, Rep. Gregorio Sablan, has repeatedly pressed the U.S. government to help implement controls, such as pre-screening measures, to curb the influx of pregnant moms.


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Thanks for putting some backgrounder here, John - I knew that stuff already and assumed that Janelle2002 knew it as well.


Sometimes my language usage seems confusing - please feel free to 'read it twice', just in case !
Ya know, you can find the answer to your question with the advanced search tool, when using a PC? Ditch the handphone, come back later on a PC, and try again.

-=-=-=-=-=R E A D ! ! !=-=-=-=-=-

Whoa Nelly ! Want NVC Info? see http://www.visajourney.com/wiki/index.php/NVC_Process

Congratulations on your approval ! We All Applaud your accomplishment with Most Wonderful Kissies !

2mzcunl.gif

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