During the dark days of the Steve Levy administration I often went to Suffolk to speak on some new hate crime or incident of police misconduct. I would be part of a line of speakers calling for realistic policies concerning immigrants. We would all get heckled when we spoke, but there was a special sort of heckling when a Latino spoke. If the Latino indicated that he or she was born in the United States, someone inevitably shouted “Anchor Baby.”
I have not heard that phrase in public much over the last few years, but this week it has been bandied around a lot by ignoramouses masquerading as leaders.
Let’s get it straight. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution says that with a very few exceptions, if someone was born in the U.S., then that person is a U.S. citizen. It used to be that only white people were automatically citizens in most states if they were born here. That is not true anymore. The Civil War and the Reconstruction Amendments that followed it ended white supremacy, at least in defining who a citizen was. Two decades later, the Supreme Court said that even the child of an undocumented Chinese immigrant was a United States citizen if that child was born here.
So we don’t have two classes of citizens, “real citizens” and “anchor babies.” Latinos born in the U.S. are as much U.S. citizens as I am. Calling them “Anchor Babies” to distinguish them from white people is disgusting. It is no different from calling them a variety of other racial epithets.