Montana Politics

Anchor Babies: Shifting the Debate

Up until the ‘anchor babies’ debate flared up, I could sympathize with immigration restriction proponents. After all, we have in this country an outrageous situation in which millions of people are breaking the law merely by their presence and their everyday lives. Surely something does have to be done if we are going to have any respect for our laws. I do think there is a ‘right way’ to immigrate to this country; legal residency is better for the country and better in the long run for immigrant communities, though I also understand the difficulties that encourage people to live in the United States illegally. However, the new debate over the 14th Amendment and ‘anchor babies’ takes this debate in a whole other direction and reveals the misguided priorities of immigration opponents.

Immigration opponents are talking out of both sides of their mouths – first they say they want people to become legal, and then they try to eliminate one avenue of becoming a citizen. To be fair, I’ve only been friends with one ‘anchor baby’ in my life, but he’s a hard working American citizen, who contributes to our country and its economy. He helped his mother study to also become a citizen, and America is two productive citizens stronger because of it. On the other hand, were he an illegal immigrant for lack of the 14th amendment, his life would probably be far different and his contribution to America far less, since he would have to be constantly looking over his shoulder, not paying as many taxes, etc.

Making it even harder to immigrate to America and become a citizen doesn’t serve the interests of law and order – it merely creates a situation where even more potential citizens are locked out of American society even as they live among us. And this is what reveals the true nature of immigration opponents – they aren’t trying to rectify a situation of ignored and ineffective laws, but instead reverse an American tradition of benefiting from the talents, industry and innovation of immigrants. I believe it is generally too much to call the group as a whole racists, as I’ve seen no evidence that they support any different measures for immigrants of any race or ethnicity. On the other hand, it is accurate to say they have lost touch with the very conservative philosophy that any person of any origin working hard for their own betterment and that of their family will contribute to the society they of which they are a part. America is blessed that millions of individuals, with all of their talents, energy, and ideas, want to become a part of our society. It would be misguided of us to make it even more difficult for them to do so.

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