Straight Talk on “Anchor Babies”

Posting this verbatim from my friend, Rev. Ryan Eller, who is the Executive Director of Define American. He posted this as a long comment on Facebook; I then asked if I could repost it, and he said “Yes, of course!” — so here it is.


Just in case folks are for some reason intrigued by the re-emergence of the derogatory term “anchor baby,” brought back into discourse by the same birther who still believes the President wasn’t born in the US, let me be really real:

Do you actually think that there are women in their final trimester of pregnancy who walk the equivalent of the Appalachian Trail, across mountains and hot deserts with little to no gear or water (and no training), trying to avoid/outrun authorities at every turn (equipped with drones, heat and motion-sensing technology, etc) simply to give birth to that child at the last minute on US soil?

Even if you think that insane thing (above) is possible, the idea that their child may be able to apply to sponsor them for a green card in 21 years is way too long term to be a primary driver of immigration.

Simply put, “anchor babies” is not only offensive (or else all of us who are non-native American would call each other that), it’s also not even a thing. People come to the US for the same reason our ancestors came–opportunity, better life, etc because America is (when at our best,) awesome.

Yes, there is an extremely low-used practice known as “birth tourism,” in which middle- and upper-class visitors on tourist visas travel to the United States specifically to have a baby. The numbers for these types of births are around 8,600, or 0.2 percent of all births, in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost none of these births are from Latin America, all have govt. approval, and almost none cross the southern US border.

Let’s please have a conversation rooted in what’s actually happening so that we can find solutions to the very real problem of our broken immigration system. Our families and communities deserve better than the perpetuation of lies based upon racially-charged myths.