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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."

Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 12, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Immigration  
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How is it that "Anchor Baby" is not a highly disgusting racist term?

You are demonizing an entire class of people. It is just as foul as wetback or beaner.

Knock it off.

Posted by: nisleib | August 12, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Parents will do a lot of crazy stuff to provide a better life for their children, so I personally suspect that the whole point is so that the child will eventually be able to live and work in the U.S. legally.

Posted by: AuthorEditor | August 12, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse


I'm guessing you missed Anderson Cooper last night.

Posted by: visionbrkr | August 12, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr - Can you summarize Cooper's comments for those of us who can't youtube?

Posted by: nisleib | August 12, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't think babies would perform very well as anchors. This doesn't seem to be an efficient use of babies.

Posted by: dkp01 | August 12, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse


it wasn't comments as much as it was a story of a woman in Texas that basically admitted to doing this. I agree it is a derogatory term so I won't use it.

She came to Texas on a tourist visa specifically to give birth in the US. She said one day her family may have to emigrate to the US and she wants it to be easier on her son to do that. They also said in a border city 70% of the births are these type. Also US immigration is permitted to stop pregnant women from entering the US if they feel they are doing this to have babies in the US. She admitted to hiding her appearance of pregnancy. She hopes to have another child and hopes to have it the same way.

Unfortunately there's no take from Anderson on the youtube site. I went back to CNN and couldn't find it there and didn't see it live so I don't have his take on it.

Posted by: visionbrkr | August 12, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if there is a real or perceived diminished likelihood of deportation for the illegal parents of a citizen baby.

Posted by: bgmma50 | August 12, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

personally I prefer Jon Stewart's thoughts on it. Good link for Lunch Break Ezra.

"the hottest new show on Nick Jr starring baby Brian Williams"

Posted by: visionbrkr | August 12, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

A CNN reporter interviews a Mexican woman who deliberately travelled to the US to have her baby in a Ft. Worth Hospital. THEN SHE WENT BACK TO MEXICO, where she and her husband live. She did this as sort of an "insurance policy" so that if things ever get so bad in Mexico that they feel they have to emigrate, at least her son will be able to come here as a citizen and enjoy his full rights.

Frankly, I don't see this as all that scary. She did this to get a better life for her son at some point in the future, if the situation in Mexico deteriorates too much, but she still lives there. She didn't indicate she intended to become an unauthorized immigrant at any time. Her son won't be able to help her get admitted for another 18 years.

In short, even if one believes that there are a significant number of such women, it doesn't have anything to do with immigration at this moment in time. People worried about changing demographics would be better advised to lobby the Pope to ease up on birth control for Catholics and make having children less of a burden in this country. We could also try to stem the flow of guns into Mexico to help things down there so Lupita doesn't have to emigrate.

Posted by: Mimikatz | August 12, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"Anchor baby" is not a racist term any more than "illegal alien" is a racist term. Do either terms say anything about the race or national origin of either the baby or the alien?

Perhaps we should stop trying to unleash the PC police when we disagree with someone so we can get to the real issue. The real issue is the welfare state.

If we could reduce the size of welfare payments (and I use the term in the broadest sense to include, food stamps, cash aid, hospitals, schools, housing, etc) to only the most needy, perhaps we could agree on a comprehensive immigration bill which does not allow guest workers to receive aid from taxpayers.

Why should someone who comes to the United States receive aid in front of Americans who have worked and paid into the system their entire lives?

Posted by: kingstu01 | August 12, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that framing the discussion in the same terms used by extremists on either side is particulary helpful. Nor is it productive to construct an inaccurate argument just because you can prove that it's inaccurate.

1. Most people realize that delivering a child in the US does not confer instant citizenship on the parents and few claim that it does. What it does seem to confer, is a quasi-exemption from deportation; given that breaking up families is not all that popular.

2. More than 8% of births in this country are in households in which at least one parent is illegally here. 8% is a significant number. As many cities can confirm, it's beyond the tipping point of what most social institutions can accommodate. The true issue for those who are thoughtful about the illegal immigration problem, is not public assistance but the burden on public services. Working class citizens have seen these services shrink or wither while increasing levels of public money are expended on servicing immigrant communities...that's the real issue for most.

3. Both the right and left media seem to focus entirely on latino immigrants while ignoring the fact that at least 25% of illegal residents (and their birthright children) non-latinos.

4. It's hard to know what kind of data would be considered as documenting the "drop and leave" thesis. It is definitely true though that there is a thriving market on the west coast that caters to Asian who come on tourist visas, make arrangements for delivery then return to have their babies. They go back to [wherever] with the new citizen who can return whenever he/she likes. It's been surprising to me to see how the press has chosen to ignore that.

Posted by: Athena_news | August 12, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'm sure the Fox News types of the world will have no problem finding plenty of anecdotal evidence that people do this,

but Ezra's point here is "Even assuming it happens, so what?"

Fox needs to find some Queda supporters pulling this off, that might reach some voters that aren't already involved in their circle jerk.

In practice, I highly doubt the effect is anything but a small boost to tourism. If they really wanted to add three to five years post-birth residency to establish citizenship for children with non-citizen parents, it wouldn't bother me.

But I'd guess the effect would be people like this staying longer, which wouldn't help. However, not having an automatic establishment of citizenship for children who are born here and stay here would be a huge step backwards, pretty much undoing all of 60s era civil rights progress. And taking a long look at 1860s era civil rights progress.

Posted by: eggnogfool | August 12, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"Pssh... you can use facts to prove anything even remotely true... facts shmacts." Homer Simpson

Posted by: mezcalero | August 12, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

When California voters had their burst of nativism with prop 209 in 1994, one effect was that a great many LEGAL residents applied for citizenship because they were afraid the US might start deporting non-citizens. Many were people who might not otherwise have become citizens and might have gone back at some point to their country of origin when/if things improved. But they made a choice, opted to stay here, became citizens and then voted overwhelmingly for Democrats.

Posted by: Mimikatz | August 12, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

One issue with Social Security is that soon there won't be enough working people paying into the system to support the retirees drawing on it. It seems like from this point, immigrants with high birth rates would help this. Illegal immigrants could be especially great as they often use fake social security cards and thus, although money gets deducted from their paycheck, they never get to collect payments upon retirement.

Posted by: nylund | August 12, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

If we were writing the constitution from scratch there are some reasonable arguments in favor of designing the citizenship requirements a bit differently. The current approach does occasionally produce some anomolous results in that a child born to tourists or a couple without immigration status automatically jumps to the front of the line while countless deserving others wait years, have endless hurdles and may never have a chance to live and work here. A child born under these circumstances would be unlikely to stay if our current laws were enforced and his/her parents leave or were deported (since, as explained in the post above, parents can't obtain immigration status for many years on the basis of having a child who is a citizen) but it does seem anomolous. There are principled and practical advantages for the standard defined in the constitution -- among others, it's a bright-line, easy to administer, apolitical and welcoming standard and a part of our legacy. Changing it is not practical, would divide the country and do little to remedy the issue some are concerned about. It seems pretty clear that the right to citizenship granted under the consitution has been an insignificant factor in drawing illegal immigrants -- most if not all come here to find work.

Posted by: wswest | August 12, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Anchor babies mean crime, high school dropouts, gangs, drugs, and apartments swarming with out-of-wedlock babies. If you want to see the effect of Anchor Babies, visit southern California (or as the locals call it, "northern Mexico").

You will come across multiple Latino-dominated suburbs with a few gated communities of scared, wealthy whites in between.

Drive through neighborhoods east and south of downtown L.A. (Pomona is the best, baby!).
Visit adjacent Riverside and San Bernardino counties and marvel at all of the foreclosures filled with squatters.

Don't forget Orange County (especially Santa Ana), where every other business sign is in Spanish and every vehicle is blaring its subwoofers at maximum earth-shaking volume. Where every male has a moustache, partially shaved head, huge gang tatoos on his neck, and waddles around in wife-beaters and baggy black pants. And where every young woman has scorpion tatoos on BOTH of her breasts, 3 cell phones paid for with her food stamps card, and pushes a shopping cart with 5 screaming babies.

Posted by: coakl | August 12, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I worked with welfare mothers in Southern California; women who entered the country illegally. San Diego County gave grant money to agencies that would translate and help them apply for welfare, food stamps, housing, WIC, medicaid, etc. They qualified for all these benefits on behalf of the children they had in this country; even though they were not here legally.

Only 3 other countries in the world (pop. of 50 million or more) grant automatic citizenship for birth: Pakistan, Brazil and Mexico. When you reward bad behavior, you will get more of it. We need to stop doing so.

Posted by: JustinCC9 | August 12, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Part One of My Comment:
Most of the arguments both ways in this discussion forum don’t even matter. How much public if any assistance they get, how much if any free schooling that get, how many crimes if any they commit, how many children they have, how much if any free medical care they get; none of this matters. What matters is that they have broken the United States immigration laws and do not belong here and must be deported.
Yes, we are a nation of immigrants but we being a nation of laws have a right to choose who immigrants to our country and from where. The USA allows approximately one million people to legally immigrant to our country each year from many countries. They go through the proper channels, get the proper documents, and go through the required interviews. They respect and obey our laws. Sometimes it takes them years to get the approval. They are welcome to our country with open arms.
Illegal immigrants not only have no respect for our laws, they do not care about the people who are trying so hard to come to this country from other countries legally who they harm. If there wasn’t so much illegal immigration, there would be a lot more legal immigration. We had a friend that wanted to come here from Ukraine a few years ago. She had to go to the embassy for an interview. If you read USA immigration law, it states in section 214b that visa applicants must demonstrate to the Consular Officer’s satisfaction that they have strong ties to a permanent residence outside of the U.S. which would compel them to leave the U.S. upon the completion of their authorized stay. And I know from talking to many rejected people in other countries, that this is hard to demonstrate for most people. In other words, if you visit the USA, you can’t just say you will return when your visa expires, you must somehow prove it. When our friend from Ukraine went to the American Embassy she told us it was like a funeral, people waiting in line, getting rejected, women crying. It you were from a white country in Eastern Europe over the last 20 years, it has been nearly impossible for you to get a visa to come to the USA because you were classified as a poor country. If you were Mexican, no problem, just walk across the border and then everyone will feel sorry for you and let you stay. The White Europeans cannot come because they have to have their papers to board a plane or ship to travel to the USA across the ocean. If we should feel sorry for the Mexicans out of compassion for them wanting a better life, then why were we not compassionate to the 20 million Eastern Europeans that wanted to come here? Because we banned all these people from coming does that mean we are a racist country against whites? Do the Mexicans that cheat our system care about the dreams they steal from people who try to come here legally from other countries? NO. Do they care about our laws? NO. So why should we care about them?

Posted by: AmericanJoe2 | August 12, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Part Two of my Comment:
The saddest part of this is that they will ultimately destroy this country. Yes, the USA will be here in 2050 but we will likely be a 3rd world economy just like Mexico. It is estimated that white people will be the minority in the USA by 2042. In 1970 before the Latin illegal immigration started in mass, the white population in the USA was 84%. In 2008, it was down to 66% and by 2050 it is estimated to be 46% and it keeps going down from there. Who is going to create wealth in this country when all the white people are gone? If it is going to be the Mexicans, then why can’t they create wealth in their Mexico without us? Who are the illegal Mexicans going to leach from when nearly everyone in the USA is Mexican?
The only reason we were a super power before was because of the Engineers, Scientist, innovators, and educated populous and the problem solvers that our country had. The USA has less than three times the population of Mexico but has produced 100 times the amount of Nobel Prize scientist. We were the technological leader of the world and that is already on a steep decline. Of these millions and millions of Mexicans come across our border, most cannot even speak English and will never learn fluent English and the average education level is 8th grade and of the children they have that are born in the USA, half of them can’t even complete High School even when our school system is now, partly due to them, the worse of all industrial nations (meaning it is the easiest). The vast majority of these people will never contribute to our countries wealth even from their manual labor because their incomes will be too low to pay taxes. Because of our progressive tax system in the USA, only the top 53% of income earners in the USA pay taxes that supports the government, national defense, schools, parks, libraries, reduced in-state tuition, law enforcement, etc. Everyone else gets a free ride and who do you think a lot of them are? How are they going to take the place of white earners and support these institutions when they and their children have done so poorly?
So goodbye America; as with the Roman Empire and many others, powers raise and fall. Now thanks to illegal immigrants from Mexico, your time has come to fall. Then when all these Mexican American descendants look at each other in a few decades in the ashes of a former power and wonder why is the USA no better off than Mexico. They will just blame it on the whites. We are already racist for wanting our laws enforced. So what else is new? We are the blame for everything but try to get the American dream to work without us. Did it work in Mexico?

Posted by: AmericanJoe2 | August 12, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

It would be reassuring if at least one proponent of modifying the 14th Amendment were to denounce the anti-Hispanic racist comments of coakl. We can certainly debate immigration policy without stereo-typing all children of illegal immigrants, or making the issue about moustaches, baggy pants, scorpion tattoos, and cell phones. Take your hateful remarks elsewhere.

@ JustinCC9 "Only 3 other countries in the world (pop. of 50 million or more) grant automatic citizenship for birth: Pakistan, Brazil and Mexico."

I am not sure what the relevance of population is supposed to be, but here is the complete least of nations that have unconditional birthright citizenship:

* Antigua and Barbuda
* Argentina
* Barbados
* Belize
* Bolivia
* Brazil
* Canada
* Chile
* Colombia
* Dominica
* Dominican Republic
* Ecuador
* El Salvador
* Fiji
* Grenada
* Guatemala
* Guyana
* Honduras
* Jamaica
* Lesotho
* Mexico
* Nicaragua
* Pakistan
* Panama
* Paraguay
* Peru
* Saint Christopher and Nevis
* Saint Lucia
* Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
* Trinidad and Tobago
* United States
* Uruguay
* Venezuela

Nations with birthright citizenship with minor restrictions include:

* United Kingdom
* Australia
* Republic of Ireland
* New Zealand
* South Africa
* France

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 12, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

This article misses the point. First: the delivery of the child is free of charge. He is then entitled to all the welfare programs in existence. After an illegal family has several children they are able to collect enough to support the parents - admittedly it is not a life of luxury but it is probably better than what they left in their country. Our system certainly encourages cheating.

Posted by: jp31901cg | August 12, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

"Nations with birthright citizenship with minor restrictions include..." - Patrick_M

Just to clarify, the minor restrictions are:

UK - requires that the parent hold an "Indefinite Leave to Remain)...i.e. a residency permit.

Australia - requires that at least one parent is a legal permanent resident.

Ireland - one parent must be a legal resident for 3 of the 4 years prior to the birth or the child must not be eligible for citizenship elsewhere.

New Zealand - One parent must be either a citizen or a legal permanent resident.

South Africa - One parent must be either a citizen or legal permanent resident.

France - legal residency of a parent must be proven.

Both Australia and France have provisions for minors who are older than 10 and have lived in the country since birth (Australia) or more than 5 years (France at age 18)

Over the last 27 years, every industralized immigration magnet has modified the citizenship birthright policy to require that at least one parent be a legal resident of the country.

In otherwise, they have already made the same minor alteration in their birthright policies that many would like to see in the US.

Posted by: Athena_news | August 12, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

"In otherwise, they have already made the same minor alteration in their birthright policies that many would like to see in the US."

I agree that the changes all of these countries have made are similar in nature to the changes proposed here, but there is a fair amount of important variance in the details of the restrictions and exemptions that are permitted among these nations.

My point was not to argue against restrictions, but simply to counter the impression created by the other commenter that the general notion of birthright citizenship is found in a handful of countries, when in fact jus soli is an ancient legal concept that has been widespread in Europe and the Americas for centuries, and remains law in dozens of countries.

I am still hoping that someone arguing for more restrictive citizenship will have the decency to distance themselves from coakl's post. I find it sad that there are no takers thus far, since that sort of rhetoric just undermines the far more thoughtful arguments made by others.

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 12, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

" I find it sad that there are no takers thus far, since that sort of rhetoric just undermines the far more thoughtful arguments made by others." -- Patrick_M

Are you going to henceforth distance yourself from every poster here who labels anyone who advocates discussion of this topic "unamerican" or dismisses any and all proposals for actual reform as racist? That's certainly been the pattern here.

I can only speak for myself. I have no interest ligitimizing posts like coakl's by engaging in discussion with or about them.

Posted by: Athena_news | August 13, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

"Are you going to henceforth distance yourself from every poster here who labels anyone who advocates discussion of this topic "unamerican" or dismisses any and all proposals for actual reform as racist? That's certainly been the pattern here.

I can only speak for myself. I have no interest ligitimizing posts like coakl's by engaging in discussion with or about them."

I will denounce obvious hate speech like the coakl post whenever I see it. I remain disapppointed that you (and others) feel that coakl's extreme racist screed is unworthy of any expression of disagreement.

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 13, 2010 2:23 AM | Report abuse

Anchor babies are not just for sponsorship. As our Whitehouse has explained and many of ICE agent has detailed. Illegals with young children are less likely to be deported than those without. Many workers aprehended in raids of packing plants in the midwest were released if they had young children at home and given a pass while the rest were kept and deported. For every illegal here having children we should charge them with child endangement due to the circumstances they raise their children in including making them unwitting acomplices in covering federal crimes.

Posted by: beverett54 | August 13, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

A full day later, and not a single other person has chosen to condemn coakl's racist remarks.

Very sad (and sadly indicative, I'm afraid).

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 13, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

A full day later, and not a single other person has chosen to condemn coakl's racist remarks.

Very sad (and sadly indicative, I'm afraid).

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 13, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

People come here to work. Undoubtedly, they will fall in love, marry and have children. But for immigrants, coming here to have children is not their primary motivation for immigration. Well over 80%" of the 340,000 births cited in a Pew report happened to women who had been in the U.S. more than one year. That blows a giant hole in the notion that mothers are crossing the U.S.-Mexican border just in time to give birth in American hospitals. As Time Magazine states in Dispelling “Anchor Baby” Myths, Over 80% of the 340,000 births cited in the report concerning children of the undocumented happened to women who had been in the U.S. more than one year. "That blows a giant hole in the notion that mothers are crossing the U.S.-Mexican border just in time to give birth in American hospitals."

There are some who engage in tourism births, but are often the affluent who have the means to come to the US with a visa. Michelle Malkin is a prime example of this. She's the real poster girl for the anchor baby phenomenon.

Posted by: CyberPost | August 13, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Europeans made up the majority of illegal aliens who received amnesty under the 1929 Registry Act, which allowed “honest law-abiding alien[s] who may be in the country under some merely technical irregularity” to register as permanent residents for a fee of $20 if they could prove they had lived in the U.S. since 1921 and were of “good moral character.” During the following year up to 1969, millions illegal Europeans legalized their status through the Registry Act.

European Immigration to the US:

1841-50: 1.6 million

1851-60: 2.5 million

1861-70: 2.1 million

1871-80: 2.3 million

1881-90: 4.7 million

1891-900: 3.6 million

1901-1910: 8.1 million

1911-20: 4.3 million

1921-30: 2.5 million

Dr. Larry Laughlin, appointed as consultant to the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization in 1922, provided support to the anti-immigrant propaganda, by stating in testimony to congress that Italians, Slovaks, Russian and Polish Jews had three times the insanity rate of American natives.

Today, about 11 percent of U.S. residents are foreign-born, far short of the 14.7 percent who were foreign-born in 1910.

Posted by: CyberPost | August 13, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Today's immigrants are not different from other immigrants who have arrived here in the past. Throughout the 1800s, there was a huge wave of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, Italians, Polish, Russsians, Jews, who arrived on our shores with no knowledge of English. These newcomers encountered the same racist nativist bullshit that is being heard today. It is estimated that four million Italians and three million Slavs arrived during that time. More than two million Jews also emigrated to the US. These people were poor and illiterate. They could not read or write in their own language, much less in English. Germans and English also arrived in the millions to escape political instability and food shortages in their countries. Newspapers of the day decried that arrival of these aliens and condemned the corrupt governments who sent these people to the shores of the United States.

Riots erupted in opposition to the presence of these immigrants. Just like in the previous century, when Germans were accused by Anglos of being the cause of all ills in society, immigrants were scapegoated.

The Irish fled Ireland starting in the 1840s to escape the deadly potato famine. Millions of Irish arrived to the American continent, almost a third of North America's immigrants. They were escaping political corruption and certain starvation in their country.

Most immigrants came for economic reasons and were part of extensive migratory systems that responded to changing demands in labor markets. The American economy had needed both unskilled and skilled workers through much of the nineteenth century. But after the 1880s, the demand was almost exclusively for unskilled workers to fill the growing number of factory jobs. More than five million immigrants came to the US during the 1880s alone. Southern and eastern Europeans, dislocated from their land and possessing few skills, were attracted to the burgeoning industries in the United States.

Like today’s Latino immigrants, Italian immigrants were particularly likely to take heavy construction jobs after arrival in the US. About half of all late 19th century Italian immigrants were manual laborers. Contracted out by a professional labor broker known as a “Padrone,” Italians dug tunnels, laid railroad tracks, constructed bridges and roads. They were mostly young, single, and had little money. The Irish immigrants had few technical skills, and their agricultural skills were limited to the spade-culture of potatoes and animal tending. They were half-starved, weak and destitute. A New York Times Editorial, June 2, 1874, urged the US government to turn a million Italian beggars into prosperous citizens.

Posted by: CyberPost | August 13, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Too poor to leave Ireland when the Potato famine began, families found passage on overcrowded, fever-ridden ships after unscrupulous businessmen discovered they could make money transporting desperate people to the US. On these "coffin ships," as they came to be known, many of them died during or just after the trip, but they had no choice but to leave for a better future or to starve to death in their own countries. These aliens had no skills, no tools, no education. Sometimes immigrant men had to be supported by their wives and daughters who worked as domestic servants in hotels and private homes, while they themselves worked sporadically sweeping streets, tending horses, cleaning stables, cutting fish, and performing any other menial work they could find.

The Italians immigrants were escaping poverty from their country, unemployment, high mortality, no medical care, little or no schooling, poor housing, semi-starvation, and exploitation. The majority of immigrants around the turn of the century were males who worked and saved money to send back to their families back home. Shipping companies made large profits by carrying immigrant aliens to the United States. They would bring cotton, wood, and crop cargoes to Europe and on the return trip bring immigrants to the US. There was hardly a city of any size in US that did not have a section designated as “Little Italy.” Italians would look to settle in these areas, for it was here that they felt free from the discrimination around them. This resulted in the formation of very definite ethnic communities: Irish, Polish and Jewish ethnic enclaves developed.

The majority of these European aliens entered the country illegally. For this reason, in 1891, Congress passed a law stating that those who had entered the country illegally could be expelled within one year. See Reports of the Immigration Commission (61 Cong., 3 Sess., Senate Doc. No. 758.) However, these aliens simply got off the boats, declared themselves to be American, and blended with the larger society.

By blaming immigrants for all the problems in their cities, politicians hoped to easily win election to office. In 1884 US congressmen decried that Italy and Hungary were shipping “as many cattle, large number of degraded, ignorant, brutal foreign serfs” to replace American citizens.

The media, which has always been the main conduct of anti-immigrant propaganda, proclaimed:

“These people are not Americans, but the very scum and offal of Europe…an invasion of venomous reptiles…long-haired, wild-eyes, bad-smelling, atheistic, reckless foreign wretches, who never did an honest hour’s work in their lives..crush such snakes…before they have time to bite.” See Public Opinion, I (1886), 82-86, iii (1887), 49 and V (1888), 432.

Posted by: CyberPost | August 13, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

"Today's immigrants are not different from other immigrants who have arrived here in the past." - Cyberpost

That's a red herring: The primary objective of an immigration policy shouldn't be what the immigrant wants/needs, it should be to enhance the well-being of the citzenry.

The conditions of the economy are vastly different from what they were a century ago. There was a need for an unending stream of unskilled workers a 100 years ago; no respectable economist would make such a claim today. Working class wages have been stagnating in this country for almost 40 years and the number of unskilled/semi-skilled jobs steadily decreasing.

In addition, most of today's immigration advocates conveniently ignore the fact that the "golden age" of immigration was not an unmitigated plus for everyone in the country. It was large scale immigration (first Asian then European) that made it possible to keep black workers in their place and fed the Jim Crow laws. It was no accident that the black struggle for civil rights movement was finally able to the gain momentum during the 50's and 60s -- a period of relatively low immigration.

Posted by: Athena_news | August 14, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

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