Lately there’s been a pretty huge debate over whether babies born to illegal immigrants here in the United States should qualify for automatic citizenship. The debate primarily centers around the first section of the 14th Amendment of the The Constitution which states the following:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The amendment itself was passed on July 9, 1868 during the period of Reconstruction following the Civil War. It was intended to grant automatic citizenship to blacks who under the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision were basically denied citizenship under any circumstances.
With the number of illegal immigrants crossing the border many people are questioning the relevance of the amendment and whether the “birthright of citizenship” should apply. Currently, the argument goes that when these “anchor babies” reach the age of 21 they can then sponsor other family members for citizenship. In theory, the parents of the “anchor baby” can be deported back to their country of origin and the baby can remain in the States however this rarely occurs since the current school of thought seems to be that the toll it takes on the family outweighs any social impacts the illegal aliens have.
Over the years it’s become a real hot button issue on the states that border Mexico since they bear the brunt of people crossing the border illegally. On one hand, politicians argue that these people are costing American citizens jobs, contribute to crime and are a huge tax burden on the local economies. On the other hand, you have other politicians who have huge numbers of Mexican Americans among their constituency and don’t want to risk losing their vote.
I won’t bother to state the actual number of anchor babies residing here in the States since that number varies widely depending on the source you choose to believe along with their political affiliations.
I don’t live in a community that seems to have the problem many others do when it comes to illegal immigration and/or anchor babies but if pressed on the matter and maybe it’s the idealist in me but I’d have to agree with the sympathies expressed in The New Colossus and that are engraved on the Statue of Liberty, especially the closing lines that read:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!