There is an increasing volume in the shouts of fear and rage against people having “anchor babies” in the United States. However, does anyone know exactly what that phrase means? It’s a nasty label given to a child born in a country of which the pregnant mother is not a citizen in an effort to provide an immediate way to gain citizenship (or lawful status, at a minimum) for the parent. While that may work in some countries, it is not an option in the US.

A child born in the US is, by birth, a citizen of the US. The citizenship of the parent is not factored into this under the law. However, there is nothing the parent gains immediately from such a birth except the costs of having a child and raising a child. A citizen of the US must be at least 21 years old before they are eligible to file a petition to have a visa issued for a parent. So, coming to the US illegally just to give birth to a child who will be a citizen of the US makes no sense from a legal or financial standpoint. The parent or parents would need to dodge the Federal officials for 21 years, with the hope that the law does not change in the meantime, until the newborn is old enough to file a petition for them. If the child decides that they do not want to file a petition, there is nothing that a parent can do to force the child’s hand at 21 years old. The law provides for no automatic legal status for the parent of a child born in the US.

One more time for clarity – There is no such thing as an anchor baby in the US under the law, and there never has been.