Arizona immigration law author now targets “anchor babies”

May 26, 2010

Fresh from authoring a controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants, Arizona Republican state Senator Russell Pearce is now seeking to push a measure to invalidate the citizenship of U.S.-born children of unauthorized migrants he calls “jackpot” or “anchor” babies.

Pearce told Reuters he plans to introduce a new bill in the Republican-controlled state Senate that seeks to annul the citizenship of children born to illegal immigrants in Arizona, the desert state at the heart of a furor since it passed a law last month requiring police to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the state illegally. USA-IMMIGRATION/

“It is difficult to imagine a more self defeating legal system than one that makes unauthorized entry into the U.S. a criminal offense, and simultaneously provides perhaps the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry,” Pearce said. The children of illegal immigrants “are not citizens. They are citizens of the country of their mother … That’s why they are called in some cases ‘jackpot babies’ or ‘anchor babies,'” he added.

Arizona’s immigration law, which is set to come into effect on July 29, is supported by a clear majority of Americans. Opponents charge it is unconstitutional and racist, and have launched legal challenges to try to derail it.

Pearce did not say when he planned to push the new bill in Arizona, home to an estimated 460,000 unauthorized migrant landscapers, busboys and chambermaids. There are no figures setting out the number of their U.S. citizen children.  He said he sought legal basis for stripping illegal immigrants’ U.S.-born children of their citizenship in a challenge to the  14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave a broad definition of citizenship to include all people born or naturalized in the United States.

Last year, 92 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sponsored a bill that would modify that amendment to restrict birthright citizenship to children with at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, or a lawful permanent resident or is on active service in the armed forces. It is still in committee.

Hispanic activists in Arizona — where around 30 percent of residents are Latinos — slammed Pearce’s planned follow up to the immigration law as “disgusting” and “un-American.”

“I served in the Iraq War with many so-called ‘anchor babies.’ They are among Americans who died for the United States,” said Ruben Gallego, a Hispanic military veteran who is running as a Democrat candidate for the state legislature. “Stupid laws like these make Arizona look like another backward state.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott (undocumented immigrants waiting to be deported from holding facility in Phoenix)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Sorry but only an amendment to the Constitution can change the Constitution, either that or a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court. No mere statute can contradict a constitutional provision.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Thank goodness for Senator Pearce! WHY hasn’t a Representative had the common sense OR GUTS to pursue this before? Just because someone can get their sorry illegal butt on our soil shouldn’t mean their child becomes an American citizen, entitled to all the privileges of an American citizen. It’s just another incentive that needs to be taken away and another tactic they use for amnesty for the millions that are already here that have had “children” and are now considered American citizens even though Ma & Pa broke the law to get here. It’s JUST NOT FAIR! If it’s the constitution that needs to be changed then LET’S do it! Times are different now than when our founding fathers created it. We are NOT trying to populate our nation as we once were. I say let’s let other Representative know that they should be on this train!

Posted by rodeoma | Report as abusive

LOL, nothing has changed at all… back then, a whole bunch of illegal immigrants came on over without permission from the then-current citizens, and made themselves right at home, just as they’re doing now. I suppose the REAL difference, is that when our ancestors immigrated illegally, they just killed everyone in their way and took over. So stop talking like you have some special right to this land- you’re the descendant of immigrants, just like every other non-Native American in this country. Oh, but it’s YOUR country right? Why, because your people stole it from the people who had it? If you don’t think a child born on US soil should be a citizen unless the parents were, then get the hell out of this country, you descendant of illegal immigrants. Our ancestors gave THEMSELVES amnesty, just like Pres. Obama is proposing for the newest wave of illegal immigrants to this country, and set up a system in which anyone born in this country would automatically be a citizen? Why? Because if citizenship was restricted to those who’s parents were natural citizens, then the only legal citizens this country would have would be the Native Americans. Saying that you have a right to be here because a government set up by conquering invaders says you do is fine… as long as you also think it would be fine if the most recent immigrants to this country set up their own government and declared themselves citizens afterward. Otherwise, you’re just another greedy, selfish, hypocrite who wants to deny others the benefits you and your family have accrued from our nations citizenship policy. I’m sick of hearing people talk like the history of this country began 300 years ago, as though our forefathers just stumbled across a completely empty land that needed to be populated as fast as possible… You know what, you’re right, things sure have changed in the last 300 years… back then the racist bigots were trying to get into the country, now they’re trying to keep others out.

Posted by JimMcTeigue | Report as abusive

It is pure populism to excite some Americans with brightly colored necks for the upcoming elections. I am a resident alien from Europe. The process of obtaining a green card took eight years. All these prohibitive immigration laws will keep only honest people honest. Criminals will find thousand other ways to get in the US and do their business. These amendments will do nothing to stop them. Americans are benefitting from hard working low-paid immigrants from the South of the border. No American would be willing to perform unskilled labor-intensive work for peanuts; they would prefer to sit on welfare. It is especially strange to hear this kind of rhetoric from people all of whom without exception are the descendants of immigrants.

Posted by Aten | Report as abusive


Your opinion doesn’t matter. If you don’t like the laws here, then go home.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive


Thank you for the advice. I knew that you would have nothing substantial to say in respond. On my way out another observation. Unfortunately your opinion has as much value as mine. Political circus makes you believe that your opinion matters, but I am afraid it is only an illusion. I witnessed many things firsthand and then was able to compare to the disinformation poured on Americans 24/7. People are cynically manipulated to think and do what puppet-masters want them to think and do. There is no journalism and reporting on news channels. Only opinion shows. No wonder that people are mislead. You believe that you know something, but the picture of the World is distorted beyond recognition. With very few exceptions the news available over Internet is of the same quality or embarrassing junk unsuitable for TV. It is easy to organize people by keeping them misinformed and appealing to the lowest instincts like hate. These Arizona initiative is an excellent example. Fyodor Dostoyevsky said that it is impossible to build human happiness if it costs tears of children. I am confident that someday you will understand what he means. If you take time to read Reuters, you are not hopeless. Good bye my friend.

Posted by Aten | Report as abusive


Your quote, “Unfortunately your opinion has as much value as mine.”

That’s all that needs to be said after your cynical response. You said nothing that matters…again.

Have a nice day!

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

@Aten & TyC – you are both wrong, and you are both right…
The illegal immigration bill to cover anchor babies is a catch 22 – yes, our families may have been “illegal” when they came here…but most of us are talking several generations ago, dating back over 100 years. I believe we as their decendants are “legally born” here now.
As far as “No American would be willing to perform unskilled labor-intensive work for peanuts; they would prefer to sit on welfare” – that is a falsehood. Especially in this economic environment. There are plenty of Americans who would do any kind of work to make a living… AND – as for sitting on welfare – well – that entitlement is what is destroying this country, as well as the entire world economy. Look at Greece. Spain is right behind. Why are these countries broke? Why are they panicing? Because their government has them on entitlements where they can retire at full salary at 50 and the government (taxpayers)pay for them for the rest of their lives. Picture a few million people living 30 or 40 years at full pay out of your pocket – giving nothing back to society. There are not enough people working and paying taxes to sustain that – and that is why Europe is crumbling, and we are not far behind.
The Southern boarder needs to be closed to stop more “Entitlement babies” not to mention gangs and drug smugglers from entering and using our “free society” as their free trip to welfare, and the crime sprees that are happening in AZ.

Posted by jfer | Report as abusive


Thanks for your reasonable opinion.

I hope you are a US citizen. If so, you have a right to your opinion of US immigration laws. If you are not, then you have no more right to an opinion than Aten.

My point is simple, if a legal alien doesn’t like our laws, then go home and/or find a better place to go.

They live by our rules, not the other way around.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

[…] Arizona immigration law author now targets “anchor babies … […]

Posted by Download Babies Trailer Free | Hollywood Movies Online | Report as abusive

The history of the 14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution makes it fairly clear that the amendment was passed as one of the Reconstruction Acts designed to facilitate the reconstruction of the union of the U.S. and the Northern and Southern states and to resolve some post civil war issues. From the amendment, and from historical writings of the period, it seems fairly obvious that the intent of the 14th Amendment was to give the rights of citizenship (like the ability to vote) and “personhood” to slave’s children if born in the U.S.

Prior to the Civil War slaves were kidnapped from foreign lands, sold into servitude and treated as chattel. These slaves and their children did not sneak into the U.S. voluntarily. They did not violate U.S. immigration laws to come to America and they were not motivated to come to America to take advantage of the 14th Amendment, because the 14th Amendment had not been passed when their arrived on U.S. soil and or when they were born.

Some foreign born commenters (above) mention that their families have been here for generations and that it is unfair (whatever that means) to now declaire them non-citizens. Those commenters should do a words search on The Immigration Reform And Control Act of 1986, and consider the impact that Act has on the issue of their citizenship and on the decison of immigrants to immigrate illegally in anticipation of subsequent U.S. amnesty acts.

Arizona State Senator Pearce’s proposed law will undoubtedly be challenged and ultimately end-up in the U.S. Supreme Court for tests of its constitutionality. However, I believe there are many students of the U.S. Constitution and Constitutional lawyers who believe that the immigrants who voluntarily enter the U.S. illegally do not have the rights of citizenship, and any children those illegal immigrants have while in the U.S. illegally are not automatically U.S. citizens.

Posted by megcynic | Report as abusive

I know, however, wanted to express my opinion even if it is like telling people in Afghanistan that throwing acid in the faces of girls that desire to go to school is not right. For them it is as much legitimate and justified and nobody should interfere. For a foreign observer it is something to comment on, nothing more.

Posted by Aten | Report as abusive

[…] born to illegal immigrants “are not citizens,” Pearce tells Reuters. Paul […]

Posted by The Radical Right’s Next Target? Citizenship-by-Birth | Race in America | « Firesaw | Report as abusive


Fair enough…

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

[…] the new proposal, Pearce stated, ““It is difficult to imagine a more self defeating legal system than one that makes […]

Posted by Arizona state senator pursues denial of “anchor baby” citizenship | The Post & Email | Report as abusive

This new Bill is unconstitutional, it is violating our civil rights, which are Amedments 13, 14, and 15. This Bill can not go any further since it is a racist act against all illegal immigrants and their children which are AMERICAN CITIZENS!!! I may be young, but i do undestand that OUR Constitutional rights that the government is trying to take away.
Even though the parents aren’t citizens, the children are. They were born in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I am only thirteen years old, I was born in this country that was meants for ALL immigrabts, illegal or not. My Father is an American citizen, but my mom isn’t.
My family fought for this country and still, the so-called government is trying to take away their rights!
I, a young teenager, is trying to point out that this country made for IMMIGRANTS is now feeding upon racism and cruelty against illegal aliens (which i have no idea why they call them aliens, why don’t you government called yourselves aleins since your family were all immigrants).
All the racists people in this country are all hyproctits and need to stop the act, it only works on an audience, not on me or my family!
Remember this, this new Bill will become a law and the only thing this Bill will do is that it will backfire on everybody who actually thinks that the Bill is a great idea.

Posted by young-gov | Report as abusive