Equity & Diversity

Ariz. Republicans Target ‘Anchor Babies’

By Mary Ann Zehr — June 14, 2010 1 min read
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The leading author of Arizona’s controversial immigration-enforcement law is gearing up to introduce a bill that would deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born in Arizona, according to a story in Time. Ariz. Sen. Russell Pearce, a leading architect of SB 1070, the new immigration-enforcement law, apparently believes that if the children of undocumented immigrants couldn’t become citizens, the parents would be less likely to stay in Arizona. Ariz. Republicans supportive of the bill are using the lingo “anchor babies” to refer to the children, who provide an anchor for their parents to settle in this country.

Update: EdWeek published today a story I wrote about the possible repercussions for schools of SB 1070.

Rep. Randy Terrill, a Republican in Oklahoma, is also gearing up to introduce a bill in his state legislature that would do away with citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution says that anyone born in this country is a U.S. citizen, so if lawmakers in Arizona and Oklahoma passed such a bill, it would likely be blocked by federal courts, the story says. Lawmakers such as Pearce and Terrill argue that the 14th amendment’s language was intended to refer to slaves, not illegal immigrants.

It’s not new for lawmakers to show an interest in getting rid of citizenship for children of the undocumented. I reported in an article about the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe, that Rep. Leo Berman introduced a bill in 2007 in the Texas legislature that had that goal.

That bill didn’t go anywhere. What seems to be new is the very real likelihood that a state legislature might actually approve such a bill.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.