Florida Anti-“Anchor Baby” Law Overturned as Unconstitutional


In a major victory for civil rights, a Florida Federal District Court judge has ruled that states cannot charge out-of-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants.  The Florida law had required the United States-born children of the undocumented to pay three times as much tuition as the children of United States citizens. Judge Michael Moore ruled that this violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Judge Moore said that “The state regulations deny a benefit and create unique obstacles to attain public post-secondary public education for U.S. citizen children who would otherwise qualify for in-state tuition.”

The Florida law was designed to attack immigrants by going after their United States citizen children. Politicians have in recent years begun to call these American citizens “Anchor Babies” and to claim that they were not entitled to the same protections as other people born in the United States. A long line of Supreme Court and other Federal cases interpreting the 14th Amendment’s grant of citizenship to these children has been ignored by anti-immigrant advocates who have tried to create invidious distinctions marginalizing them. The 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause makes no distinction between those the haters would label “Anchor Babies” and any other United States citizen.

Kris Kobach, the so-called “legal adviser” to anti-immigrant activists, has been in the forefront of the attack on children as a way to punish undocumented parents. The Florida decision should put to rest his hateful efforts.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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