By Joe Guzzardi
January 5, 2011
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, with the blessing of newly elected Republicans, has clearly identified his immediate immigration agenda. Smith promises legislation that will mandate use of E-Verify.
Currently optional, E-Verify is the federal program that checks recently hired employees social security numbers against a federal data base.
Smith’s E-Verify bill is certain to pass the House and, although it will face a closer Senate vote, is likely to become law unless President Barack Obama wants to stick his neck out to veto it, a tall order in an economy with 10 percent unemployment.
Assuming the E-Verify scenario plays out as planned, then the House will take up the more contentious anchor baby legislation.
Under the 14th Amendment’s current interpretation, challenged by many Republican legislators, any child born on American soil is automatically a U.S. citizen.
Iowa’s Steve King, Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee, sees it differently. In a CBS interview last November, King said he’s looking at “dropping a bill early in the 112th Congress” to end anchor baby citizenship. King added that he expected hearings “in the next couple of months.”
Any Congressional debate about anchor baby citizenship as it’s applied today will help end it.
King urges Congress to focus on this key 14th Amendment clause: “…and subject to the jurisdiction thereof…” which means, according to him, that babies born to illegal immigrants should not have Constitutionally protected rights since their mothers are foreign nationals.
Furthermore King, along with other Constitutional scholars, insists “…subject to the interpretation of…” was specifically added in the post-Civil War era to ensure that infants born to newly freed slaves would be citizens.
Ending anchor baby citizenship will be a much hotter potato than E-Verify. The battle has already heated up in Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah where those states want to end the practice.
The stakes for America are high enough that political correctness should be set aside to debate the consequences of continuing the status quo.
Among other drawbacks the “anchor” child, born at no cost to his parents in a U.S. hospital, instantly qualifies for a host of taxpayer-funded benefits that begin with post-natal care, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (known as WIC), food stamps and extend through free K-12 public education. At that point, the young adult either gets a job or applies for social services. Since jobs are scarce and budgets tight, neither is viable.
A long as the anchor baby option remains, illegal immigration will continue. In fact, the multiple benefits to immigrants of delivering anchor babies are so appealing that a cottage industry has been built up around it.
Pregnant women enter the United States on legal visas and go directly to the hospital. In California, Arizona and New York birth tourism packages, similar in some respects to the “all-in ones” you might buy for a family trip to Florida, are eagerly bought up by Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Turks and other enterprising, wealthy immigrants who want their newly born to have access to American citizenship’s long term benefits.
Last but certainly not least is the anchor baby’s affect on population growth. As Senator Lindsey Graham said during this summer’s anchor baby dust up: “I’m a practical guy, but when you go forward, I don’t want 20 million more [immigrants] 20 years from now.”
What gives King’s pending legislation a solid chance to pass is that it won’t repeal the 14th Amendment with all of its civil rights guarantees but that it will instead be drafted as a bill that requires conferring citizenship only on children who have at least one American citizen or legal immigrant parent.
Like E-Verify, legislation that changes the anchor baby definition would likely pass both Congressional chambers before leaving its fate up to President Obama.
Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns—mostly about immigration and related social issues – since 1990. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), www.CAPSweb.org, and his columns have frequently been syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. He can be reached at [email protected]