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August 09, 2010

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Matt Lister

In fact such visits are rare, for the very good reason that they are not of immediate benefit to the parents--children can not sponsor their relatives for legal residency before they turn 21

This is an important and often over-looked point. But, there are even more reasons why the so-called "anchor baby" idea is less plausible than fear-mongers would have us think. In the case of "illegal aliens" there are additional bars to adjustment of status that make it very difficult to acquire immigration benefits from family members. In many (probably most) cases, the non-citizen seeking immigration benefits who is not currently "in status" must leave the U.S. and apply from his or her home country. In most such cases there will then be a 10-year bar on re-entry to the U.S. There are sometimes exceptions, but they are not easy to fit into and hard to qualify for. Now, not all, maybe not many immigrants know about this, so it's unclear how much of a direct disincentive it is. But, it does mean that for irregular migrants, immigration benefits via a child born in the U.S. are harder to get than most people think. Additionally, consulate officers can and will reject visa applications of visa applicants they think have "immigrant intent", and if they think a person intends to have a child in the U.S. so as to gain immigration benefits, visas can and will be refused.

Greg Robinson

I appreciate this extra information. I had not sought, in a historical article, to examine in detail the merits of the argument that foreigners come to the United States to give birth. It might be useful to point out that such complaints are by no means new. Accusations that Mexican women were pouring across the border to have babies were aired and given credibility by THE NEW YORK TIMES at least as far back as 1982.

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