Arizona immigration law author now targets “anchor babies”
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.
“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)