Saturday, February 29, 2020

Weighing America's 'anchor babies'

Aug 26. 2015
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Recently the American political scene was enlivened (as if it wasn't lively enough already) by the introduction of the term "anchor babies".
This is a name given to babies carried by pregnant foreign women who enter the United States with the specific purpose of giving birth on American soil. Such babies automatically become US citizens. As such, they “anchor” their parents to the US and pave the path to the parents’ eventual legalisation as immigrants. This is because the parents of US citizens are given preferential treatment in applying for US visas.
The term is awkward, and its meaning is not immediately clear. Some condemn it as racist, although anchors do not belong to any known race. Clearly it is demeaning to the infants involved. When somebody objected to it at a campaign rally, Jeb Bush challenged the objector to give him a better term.
I’ve been cudgelling my old brain in search of one. We need a term that is short and catchy, but most of all one that accurately encapsulates the situation that precipitated the baby’s birth in the US – that is, the parents’ desire to immigrate legally.  
The best I’ve been able to come up with is “instant Yankees”. But this is inadequate, and I appeal to The Nation’s legions of learned readers to suggest a better term.
Ye Olde Pedant

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