Obama, immigration and “anchor babies”

By Bernd Debusmann
January 31, 2011

After breaking a promise to tackle immigration reform in his first year in office, President Barack Obama now thinks the time has come to deal with the thorny issue “once and for all.” It’s a safe bet that he will fail to repair America’s broken immigration system. Why? George W. Bush helps explain.

The immigration reform Bush championed would have provided tighter control over the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, a new visa system for temporary workers, and a path to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants already in the country. The bill failed in 2007 after running into stiff opposition from congressional leaders of his own Republican party.

In his memoir, Decision Points, he says the debate over the reform had been affected by “a blend of isolationism, protectionism and nativism,” apocalyptic warnings of a “third world invasion and conquest of America” by TV radio hosts and commentators and last but not least the influence of ideological extremes in Congress.

“The failure of immigration reform points out larger concerns about the direction of our politics,” Bush writes in a perceptive passage. Since members of Congress in safe districts do not have to worry about challenges from the opposition party, their greatest vulnerability is getting outflanked in their own party. The result is a drift towards the extreme, he writes, and “this is especially true in the era of bloggers, who make national targets out of politicians they deem ideologically impure.”

That trend was obvious in the 2010 mid-term elections that gave Republicans a 49-seat majority in the House of Representatives and brought in many extremely vocal guardians of ideological purity, adherents to the populist tea party movement.

It is not a congress with an appetite for fixing what Obama, like his predecessor, has described as a broken immigration system. And the obstacles for him are even bigger than they were for Bush. Isolationism, protectionism and nativism are still running strong in the debate. The talk radio hosts and TV commentators Bush complains about in his book treated him, a fellow Republican, much more gently than they do Obama, whom they tend to portray as the devil incarnate.

So Obama’s remark, in his State of the Union address on January 25, that the debate “will be difficult and take time” sounds like the understatement of the year. Particularly because it came just a few weeks after anti-immigration hard-liners added a new element to the long-running political battle.

ANCHOR BABIES” AND THE CONSTITUTION
That involves a constitutional amendment, dating back to 1868, providing U.S. citizenship to almost all babies born in the United States. (The children of foreign diplomats are excluded). In the terminology of proponents of tighter immigration rules, children born to illegal immigrants are “anchor babies,” meant to ensure legal status for their parents and prevent their deportation.

The phrase adds a toxic element to the immigration debate but it is misleading. Until such children reach the age of 21, they cannot sponsor their parents for legal immigration status. That has not stopped an anti-anchor baby movement from gathering momentum.

Two days after Obama’s “once and for all” remark, two Republican senators, Rand Paul and David Vitter, introduced legislation that would end the right to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants born in the U.S.

A day earlier, Arizona Republicans filed similar legislation, part of a coordinated drive in several U.S. states to highlight claims that the federal government is not doing enough to curb illegal immigration.

The aim is to fuel debate over the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution which guarantees citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Interpreting the second half of that sentence will boost the income of lawyers but do little to repair the immigration system.

The key to doing that is what Bush pursued and Obama echoed in his State of the Union speech: a way to “protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.”

There are at least 11 million of them and to the ideological purists, any proposal to give them a path to legal status is tantamount to “amnesty,” like “anchor babies” one of the terms that touch emotional buttons and tend to drown practical considerations. Common sense would dictate that border security, an out-of-date visa system and the status of millions of people already in the country must be dealt with simultaneously and in one package.

But for long, leading Republicans have insisted on a sequence – first, there must be full “operational control” over the border, defined by law as “the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics and other contraband.”

The ambitious, or elusive, nature of that requirement was best described by Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano when she was governor of Arizona: “Show me a 50-foot wall and I will show you a 51-foot ladder.”
And the solution?  None in sight. If Obama has a plan on how to solve the problem, he has yet to spell it out clearly.

(You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com)

19 comments

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[...] by on January 31, 2011 Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box After breaking a promise to tackle immigration reform in his first year in office, President Barack Obama now thinks the time has come to deal with the thorny issue “once and for all.” It’s a safe bet that he will fail to repair … Excerpt from: Obama, immigration and “anchor babies” | Analysis & Opinion | [...]

America is emotionally exhausted and mentally divided on the growing crux of illegal immigration issues. Most lawmakers are afraid of it and will not touch it. For the prior thirty years or so these supposed legislators working for the American people have crippled any new laws against constructing the border wall, E-Verify or anything else that’s come their way.Then until prison is highlighted for businessman who scorn the law of hiring foreign labor and not obligated by the the introduction of mandated E-Verify, illegals will still get jobs. Today is entirely different as many strong minded legislators as Sen. Sessions, and a few others have explored the massive impact of this terrible plague of cheap foreign labor. Arizona Governor Brewer and State Representative Peirce have realized the terrible impact they have had to bare, from those illegal workers and their families. As a Border State it has had to suffer silently, but with the gigantic downturn of the caustic housing market, brought upon us by such silent partners in crime as Andrew Cuomo who made it extremely easy through threats to force banks to offer low income, and a majority of illegal alien’s families to buy homes. As more States begin to purge their regions of illegal immigration with such enforcement E-Verify, 287 (g) and more policing systems, these populations of aliens have no choice but to pack their possessions and head for California, Utah and soft States.

On the main agenda now is the burgeoning battle over the 14th Amendment that gives rights immediately to the new born of an illegal parent? The commentary on this is well known, but to my opinion that anybody with a parent who owns allegiance to a foreign country, cannot have any binding right to any citizenship. Eventually the Supreme Court will hear the State of Arizona pleading to overrule the law meant for just slaves after the Civil War. However, with three (I think) out of five justices the law, will stay the same. We can certainly without any exceptions deport the parent or parents? Most Liberal doctrines are a sad ideology, that is a disgrace to this sovereign country and indirectly the progressives are to blame for the 2.500 people who died in the carnage at the World trade Center. Law enforcement was prohibited to ask, certain question of the Muslim murderers who crashed the jets into the buildings thanks to the “Politically Correct” philosophy of a zealot extremists in the Democratic Party.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT?

These reports lays out some unfortunate foundation about the birthright law, that outlines some facts that American patriots must explore: http://tinyurl.com/48gpodm This become unfair game to the despondent US Taxpayer as the 14th Amendment is costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually, that should be going to our poor, our senior citizens, our homeless veterans, our mentally handicapped the old and sick. http://tinyurl.com/46ffz6g and http://tinyurl.com/48bkx23 and http://tinyurl.com/45kopdl Until the Liberal progressives cut off our right to “Free Speech” or introduce the “Fairness Doctrine” I will bring to America attention the dangers of illegal immigration, chain migration and amnesty. Here are the projections of costs of the huge inflow of women 9 month pregnant females and ready to conceive, arriving from every country from one hemisphere to the other, getting free prenatal care, welfare and even as they have more children low income housing. : http://tinyurl.com/2upevd And http://tinyurl.com/4pl97mo

Another rip off of America’s tax base is the massive fraud of the child tax credit, that the Fed’s have done absolutely nothing about? http://tinyurl.com/mhh22q. This is mostly attributed to illegal immigrants who are largely responsible for this silent fraud that our taxes pay for. Another interesting statistic is “How many illegal immigrants have settled in the US, ” is an article located in the Christian Science Monitor: http://tinyurl.com/6etlnm I have added these new links because there are so many negative points that must be explored

We must introduce every form of enforcement, including the border fence and scrutiny of every female who steps of a jet or arrive by ship. REMEMBER MOST LIBERTARIAN MEDIA WILL HAVE NO COMMENT BOX FOR YOU TO USE YOUR HEALTHY INTELLECT, AGAINST THEIR RAMBLING AGENDA’S BY SPEAKING OUT WITH FREE SPEECH. THEY ALWAYS TURN TO FOUL LANGUAGE, OR RACIST EPITHETS TO GRIND YOU DOWN, SO YOU WILL NOT STAND AGAINST THIS FINANCIALLY TROUBLING ISSUE. Join a local TEA Party http://tinyurl.com/1pzd for less government intrusion, fair taxation and to erase the illegal alien invasion that will escalate your tax burden. Learn more about this simmering financial problem and its consequences at http://tinyurl.com/c8y7re and http://tinyurl.com/zjsgl

No copyright ever. Distribute freely.

Posted by Brittanicus | Report as abusive

[...] post: Obama, immigration and “anchor babies” | Analysis & Opinion | Comments [...]

Obama, immigration and “anchor babies” | Analysis & Opinion |…

Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

Brittanicus’ long-winded reply slings blame everywhere but where it belongs. He brainlessly espouses the Tea Bagger’s typical contradictory and illogical rants: for instance, how can you simultaneously “introduce every form of enforcement” to “erase the illegal alien invasion”, while paying lower taxes for “less government intrusion”?

America is stuck in permanent adolescence, constantly insisting that someone else pay the price for our irrational decisions. Voting is useless, except in one way: by choosing to be responsible about where we spend our dollars. Yet visit anywhere in America to watch Tea Baggers throwing their cash at businesses that obviously employ illegal labor.

Psychotic. We’re doomed.

Posted by whatever_dude | Report as abusive

In 1981 I worked at a fast food place that employed one Hispanic worker and the rest were white. A rare ratio to find today! This Hispanic worker hated all white people and told everyone that the Mexicans will overrun the southwest and to just wait to be ruled by Mexicans. The moral is that this plan has been afoot for a long time and they have succeeded generally in most of LA County and in Santa Ana California. Our liberal, politically correct, apathetic culture has ruined California. There is good weather and nice clean pockets of suburban life, but the added cost associated with fraud and entitlements to illegal population negates the benefits. Los Angeles is basically a lost cause and the State govt. is corrupt and inept to the point where they are morally bankrupt. There is no way out unless we can go financially bankrupt and get some independent sanity in the decision making.

As for the illegal’s, this debate has raged on and the resulting consensus is that they will have to self-deport. This can be done through mandatory strong e-verify, sanctuary city elimination, end of anchor baby and free social services programs and stronger borders. And lastly, there should there be no free (or virtually free) amnesty and English should be made the official language. Our culture is getting too diluted and needs a strong shot of common sense thinking.

Posted by EagleDriver | Report as abusive

Any chance that with a Republican president voted into office in 2012, and perhaps a handful more Republicans in the senate, effective immigration law that deters illegal immigration(except those truly seeking asylum from persecution) will be passed? And those who do immigrate legally, went through more hoops than anybody else, work harder, make less and contribute more, namely talents educated at Stanford and MIT will be given due respect?

Posted by Janeallen | Report as abusive

We need a sane Hispanic American congressman to propose the outlawing of anchor babies because
Hispanics need to come to the reality that illegal immigration hurts them. The “dream of immigrating illegally and successfully” drives the citizens of countries with large efflux to failure— namely, Mexico is the worst failed state currently, and is by far the largest supplier of illegal immigrants.

In stark comparison, Brazil is the most vibrant economy in South American currently. And illegal immigration from Brazil has been neligible for decades.

Mexicans need to wake up to the truth that their dream should be focused on how to build their country, rather than how to survive the border guards, and weather elements en route to an illegal trip to the United States.

And a wise Hispanic is sorely needed to tell them the truth right in their face, for thier own good. If they start realizing that reality, there will be fewer who come, and those who come will be most likely to succeed in the mainstream. Right now, many who cross the borders have unrealistic dreams that do themselves and United States and their own country no good.

Posted by CommonSensLogic | Report as abusive

@CommonSensLogic Change and leadership most certainly need to come from within the immigrant culture, but who is going to tell a cousin to return to abject poverty, soaring crime rates, and degrading living conditions all backed by corrupt government (reference today’s article on Government Corruption ratings)? I have worked with and lived with brutalized children and families and live in an unnamed “soft state.” I can tell you that their lives in Mexico were characterized by heinous and outrageous cruelties. If that is not grounds for “political asylum,” what is? However politically or financially inconvenient, should we not peel away the layers of our disdain for a problem we created in our lust for ever more prosperous commerce and trade, anchored in cheaper and cheaper labor?

Why do we persecute people for adhering to their religious and cultural beliefs when a look in the mirror will show the finger pointing directly back at us? Are we not bolstered by our own Christian and Puritan heritage as British descendants? Did we not first come to this country seeking our own asylum? And did we take hold of these lands peacefully?

Evidence strongly suggests that we subjugated and horribly abused the rightful natives of this country, which includes not just native american indians but also Mexicans who rightfully lived in our current “southwest,” until our anglo ancestors “purchased” it. We then shamefully proceeded to import and “own” human beings of African descent, until the merciful uprising in the Civil war. Failing our ability to successfully maintain “slave” labor, we then abused all immigrants as sources of “cheap” labor. I can find no evidence of any native or nonnative culture we have not somehow disabused and all in the name of “commerce” and “prosperity,” largely for our “ruling class,” and I find little that has changes, regardless of wars, laws, or financial gains. Our very constitution was anchored in the beliefs and hopeful conquests of commercial prosperity.

We created our own problems, and created a tenfold amount for so many others. Truly, can we not do better? If we believe so deeply in our own supremacy as “rightful rulers,” despite our pitiful legacy, perhaps we could take responsibility for our actions, examine our beliefs, and decide at the very least to uphold basic human rights?

Posted by sopris13er | Report as abusive

Immigration reform will not happen. Ever.

Posted by The_Traveler | Report as abusive

Wow, Brittanicus, that was rant-tastic! One thing I constantly see in calls for tougher border controls is how much the illegals are casting the American taxpayer. However, report after report (from various sources!) clearly shows that the cheap labor provided by illegals is clearly a net plus for the American economy.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story .php?storyId=5312900

J. Lipman, Francine, J. (Spring 2006). Taxing Undocumented Immigrants: Separate, Unequal and Without Representation. The Tax Lawyer.
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?a bstract_id=881584.. Also published in Harvard Latino Law Review Spring 2006

http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/p r-imopi.html

Simply put, the “illegal immigration problem” is a non-issue manufactured to stir up a base that wants a scapegoat to blame their problems on.

Posted by RexMax46 | Report as abusive

america wants to rule the world, so y not have rule them while they are in your own country.
America is also large enough to easily support a population of a billion. At this point only 1% of the land is urbanized.

Posted by Shukla | Report as abusive

Here’s betting that any attempt at immigration reform will not include a debate about the (wisdom of having a) minimum wage. How often do we hear that illegal immigrants do the jobs that “Americans will not do”? In reality, no one knows if Americans will do landscaping or harvest oranges or wash dishes for (random figure) $4/hour because WE DON’T LET THEM. The fact that so many immigrants do these jobs at low wages proves that value-adding jobs exist at that level. Pray tell, what would be so wrong with American teens or former inmates or inner city youth doing these jobs? If we let them, i.e. eliminate the minimum wage, we will automatically cut down on illegal immigration because there will be fewer work opportunities on this side of the fence. If we’re really feeling ambitious, we could eliminate all taxes on jobs below (again random figure) $8/hour. That would stimulate hiring at that level and put Americans on a level playing field with illegals, again cutting down on illegal immigration. But again, it’ll never happen because free-market solutions are no longer desirable.

Posted by mheld45 | Report as abusive

“… the debate over the reform had been affected by “a blend of isolationism, protectionism and nativism …”

A large and growing number of people oppposed to excessive immigration are motivated not by irrational fears but by a common sense understanding of the dangers of overpopulation. At a time when our population has out-stripped our resources and our ability to gainfully employ our ballooning labor force, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to continue to import enough people to fill another major city every year.

Yes, we are a nation built by immigrants, but this isn’t the 19th century any longer. We’re the 3rd most populous nation behind China and India. Keep up our rate of immigration and our living standards will soon sink to match theirs.

Posted by Pete_Murphy | Report as abusive

The unadulterated truth about our immigration debate is, as most truths are, simple and easily apparent: the institutions that own our government profit from the inexhaustible supply of cheap, easily exploited labor, and thus any “reform” package will absolutely assure that the supply remains open.

All of the ranting about “anchor babies,” “Hispanics conquering the US,” “border security,” and all the rest of it is designed purely and simply to keep the real issue out of public view. The hospitality industry wants this labor. The agriculture industry wants this labor. The construction industry wants this labor. There will be no reform, period.

Move along.

Posted by JackMack | Report as abusive

Brittanicus,

‘LIBERTARIAN MEDIA’? Do you even know what a Libertarian is?

whatever_dude,

Though I am not one, it is Tea Partiers, not ‘Tea Baggers’.

Until existing laws are enforced to punish the businesses using illegal labor; what is the point of enacting any new legislation which will also be roundly ignored?

Posted by murzak | Report as abusive

None of these desired changes will come to pass until our failed ‘democracy’ is straightened out. We are ruled by an entrenched, arrogant, corrupt ‘Gerontocracy’ in Congress whose inclinations are to serve their ‘real’ constituency – which is not mainstream middleclass Americans. I recently found on wikipedia a ‘list of members of US congress by longevity’ which showed that there are over 100 members who have ‘served’ over 30 years. This is outrageous to me! In order to have a ‘democracy’ we need to have a reasonable turnover in congress and to obtain that we must have ‘term limits’ and ‘age limits’ in such ‘elected’ positions. Instead what we have is the same sort of entrenched corruption that caused the mobs in Egypt to drive them out for change. I’m surprised that Americans aren’t fed up enough to march on Congress with pitchforks, scythes, and torches as in the past. We seem to be a country of ‘wusses’.

Posted by Eric93 | Report as abusive

Before talking about illegal immigration let us take a look at the legal immigration wait time, see the link: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/statistics/Em ployment%20Based%20I-485%20Pending%20Inv entory%20as%20of%20January%2005,%202011. pdf
In my opinion, the per country limit of 2800 per year per category is too low. Some categories, it may even take 20 years to get the green card. These are the people, sincerely waiting in line and maintaining their legal status every year, paying social security taxes and not elegible for any benefits until they get their citizenship. Their kids are not elegible for any financial assistance in college studies.

Posted by hexazebra | Report as abusive

The Wall St. Journal reported on Sept.11.01 that Hank Kissinger was to be arrested for his part in the murder of Chile’s President Salvador Allende(see Nat’l Sec. Briefing Bk. #8.) Interestingly Sept. 11 2011 will mark the 38th Anniversary of the Cia directed coup which installed Dic-tater A. Pinochet and his murderous reign of terror. H.K. was never prosecuted for this or other crimes against humanity and Shrub II will never face charges in court either for his part in the implosion of the WTC complex on Sept.11.01(see architects&engineers911truth.org) The MIC is in charge of all foreign policy decisions, including those that effect immigration on the US southern boarder. The solution to this “problem of idealogical impurity” as georgie’s ghost writer put it is stunningly simple. Share economic intell with those nations whose people are forced to flee their own countries to seek a livable wage. By raising their standards of living foreign nationals will remain in their home countries and build up their own society. This will end “illegal immigration” for all intent and purpose. Investing in education & economic opportunities would stem violence and build a sustainable economy. The drug problem Reagan imported in his “one of a kind” presidency would end in 12 months if young people on both sides of the border had any hope of a real education and self determinant employment opportunities that were based upon sustainability not the illusion of “endless growth of expanding markets.”
As American icon John Wayne once said, “Life is tough, when you’re stupid it’s even tougher.” Education is the key to any healthy republic. In case you haven’t noticed things ain’t lookin’ too good for the next generation.

Posted by echobravotango | Report as abusive

Yes, but what is an anchor baby anyway, except for…an American citizen?

Change the law, and then we’ll talk.

Posted by NormanRogers | Report as abusive

Learn history. Uneducated mobs are the most vulnerable and inflexible part of society. They have hard time to adjust to any changes. Look who and why fueled revolutions in XIX-XX centuries. It took good part of XX for Europe & US to become Developed World and elevate own poor to middle class.

No country can benefit from influx of low educated mobs.

1. Illegals don’t compete with collage graduates, they compete with US poor deny them jobs. Look at construction, landscaping, fast food etc. NPR report impact on wages rather that percent of employed illegals.

2. Illegals don’t pay taxes while using our social services: emergency rooms, schools, police, jails etc. In my town public school student cost ~$15,000.00.

3. Illegals cause stagnation the same way as slavery. US agriculture, construction became addicted to cheap illegal/salve labor. There is reason to risk innovation when you can abuse cheap labor.

I have no problem with 10 millions illegal Ph.D :).

Posted by S_K_V | Report as abusive

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Want to have an interesting change in the debate, come up with an amnesty proposal that excludes the possibility of anyone entering illegally ever having the right to vote. What support there is from the left for amnesty is tied to their hope that they can collect the votes. Obama in his little speech where he said he would ‘reward his friends and punish his enemies’ pretty well laid out the thinking in the Democratic party. It doesn’t leave him with much credibility.

Posted by ARJTurgot2 | Report as abusive

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