The evidence on anchor babies
Speaking of research desk, a reader e-mailed to ask whether we have any actual evidence on the prevalence of "anchor babies" -- children born in the United States so that their foreign parents have a fast path to citizenship.When people hear about anchor babies, they assume the parents of these tiny citizens get automatic citizenship. Not quite. The parents of these tiny citizens might get citizenship -- but it'll take more than 30 years. Politifact explains:
It's important to note that having an "anchor baby" won't do much to help a Mexican mom become a U.S. citizen. Because citizen children cannot sponsor their parents for citizenship until they turn 21 -- and because if the parents were ever illegal, they would have to return home for 10 years before applying to come in -- having a baby to secure citizenship for its parents is an extremely long-term, and uncertain, process.
As for whether we're really seeing what Lindsey Graham called "drop and leave," in which immigrant parents head over and give birth and then head back to their home countries to wait 31 years for citizenship, well, as you might expect, "immigration data and surveys don't provide much support for Graham's notion."
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