Arizona Anti-Immigrationn Senator Going After ‘Anchor Babies’ Next

arizona threat level chartAn Arizona local news station (KPHO) is reporting that the state Senator behind Arizona’s new immigration law, Russell Pierce (R), does not intend on stopping at SB-1070. In e-mails obtained by CBS 5, Pearce said he intends to push for an “anchor baby” bill that would essentially overturn the 14th amendment by no longer granting citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants born on U.S. soil. “Anchor babies” is a derogatory and “politically charged” term used to refer to the U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents.

Pierce is confident his new proposal is constitutional. “It’s common sense,” Pearce said. “Again – you can’t break into someone’s country and then expect to be rewarded for that. You can’t do it.”

However, the Constitution doesn’t grant citizenship to those born in the U.S. as an “award,” but rather, as a right. In an article released by the Center for American Progress (CAP), its authors argue “Eleven years and a bloody Civil War later, when the framers of the 14th Amendment composed its text, they explicitly rejected the notion that America is a country club.” Under the 14th Amendment, “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The U.S. Supreme Court explicitly confirmed in United States v. Wong Kim Ark that anyone born in the United States would be a citizen regardless of their parents’ nationality. “This is why the hard right’s assault on birthright citizenship — claiming that the Constitution does not in fact grant citizenship to the children of immigrants to the United States — does not survive contact with the text of the Constitution itself,” writes CAP.

Pierce isn’t the first lawmaker to go after the children of immigrants. Since taking office, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) has tried and failed to pass seven pieces of legislation that would either repeal or reinterpret the 14th Amendment’s definition of citizenship. Most recently, Bilbray took his anti-14th Amendment crusade to the state-level, backing the Taxpayer Revolution’s “Anchor Baby” reform initiative which sought to limit the rights and benefits of the U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants by redefining the 14th Amendment’s jurisdiction. Bilbray has also praised and defended Arizona’s new immigration law, indicating that police officers will be able to identify undocumented immigrants by employing criteria such as the shoes they wear.

andreaTKPHO obtained a troubling email from one of Pierce’s constituents who is encouraging him to pursue the “anchor baby” legislation. “If we are going to have an effect on the anchor baby racket, we need to target the mother,” wrote the constituent. “Call it sexist, but that’s the way nature made it. Men don’t drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do.” In response to the email, Pierce said he “didn’t find anything wrong with the language.” “It’s somebody’s opinion…What they’re trying to say is it’s wrong. And I agree with them. It’s wrong,” Pierce told KPHO.

Andrea Christina Nill

Crossposted with permission from the Wonk Room.

Artwork by Tom Hall.


  1. Michael says

    You cannot argue that the majority of the country want the law enforced, not only against Illegal Mexicans. The only way to have accountability in enforcing this law is making the employer that knowingly employs illegals responsible. This is only the beginning of this political trend, but how far will it spread?

  2. Tom says


    “out of touch with reality”?
    “steeped in sanctimony”? (at least this one drips with irony!)

    “Liar”? Are you pretending that the bill does not include two sections that permit people who file reports of employers using illegal workers to be charged with a crime?

    Would that denial of the text of the bill make you a liar? Would it be illogical for readers to wonder what beliefs you are so ashamed of that you prefer to be called out for lying than have exposed?

    Is it really necessary to descend into name-calling to defend your beliefs? Or is it possible that if you were open about what you think (as Rand Paul was for a few hours after the primary) people might engage with you on the actual merits of your positions?

  3. SK says

    Oh, puleeze! Going after the babies?! That’s BS. They’re going after the POLICY that encourages women to have babies here so that American taxpayers have to pay for their upbringing.

    Those babies of illegal aliens are already citizens. Period. If the parents choose to, they can access full benefits for their babies, starting from the 100% covered birth services, to free food, free housing, even free college, all paid for by American taxpayers. All free, in spite of the fact that the baby’s parents may have never paid a dime into the system to cover these benefits of instant citizenship for the kids.

    That’s exactly why birthright citizenship has to be changed. Because people have figured out a way to scam the system and get Americans to pay for their kids. Mexicans in particular are utilizing this approach, causing a huge backlash in border states. The federal government is unwilling to enforce immigration law, which forces states to try to solve the problems. It creates a situation where the right wing can use illegal immigration as a wedge issue, which helps them raise money and elected.

    What’s surprising is that so many progressives are willing to promote policies that are detrimental to our country. If you care about poor Mexicans, then let’s provide support to the Mexicans that are still in Mexico suffering under their government’s policies that perpetuate abject poverty. Why are those starving children less important than the kids whose parents snuck across the border to have their babies here?

    Allowing millions of people to enter and stay in the country is bad for the economy, bad for the middle class, and bad for our progressive agenda. Birthright citizenship prioritizes lawbreakers over potential immigrants who are willing to follow the process and wait their turn, and it encourages parents to break the law.

    In spite of the current focus on illegal immigrants from Mexico and the economic impact of poor Mexicans having babies in border states, the problem of “maternity tourism” is across all ethnicities, races and countries of origin. Asia has companies that help women come here while pregnant for the specific purpose of having a child on American soil. Even of they return to Asia to raise their kids, those children have priority in college acceptance at American universities, and they even receive public support for college! Just because their mom took a trip to America in order to have a baby here!

    The economic impacts on American taxpayers and health care payers for babies of poor, non-citizen parents can include Medicaid for the mother, birth expenses for the fetus/infant, and welfare, housing assistance, Medicaid through age 18, Social Security, and foster care costs for the baby/instant citizen. In addition, each of those instant citizens can sponsor relatives who also are prioritized over other valid potential immigrants (hence the name, “anchor babies”). All of the above helps the right wing stir up anger among their base.

    This is NOT an issue of race or ethnicity, except to the extent that some want it to be framed in that context. The real issue is that a country like ours should be able to maintain sovereignty by excluding non-citizens. If we decide we don’t want to do so, than let’s stop wasting millions of dollars on our immigration service and just open up the borders

    Other countries have decided that birthright citizenship is an outdated concept that is not functional in today’s mobile, overpopulated global environment. The 14th Amendment should be challenged or changed to reflect (and create) a more sensible immigration policy.

  4. says

    Why do small minded politicians and elected officials like Russell Pierce always look for ways to hurt those who are lower on the pecking order than they are? Maybe like most cowards they are unwilling to face the bullies who cow them so they posture while abusing children.

  5. Tom says

    I love the official Arizona flag. It has the beautiful rising sun (or is it sunset) graphic, with a star over it.

    What is so wonderful about the star is that it is brown. The Arizona flag star honors the color of the sun-darkened natives and farm workers that the current Arizona government wants to eradicate or drive away.

    The white retirees who fill up Sun City and worship at the church of Arpaio may want to ignore the real contributions made by the parents of “anchor babies.” But until they change the flag, everyone will know that once, in an historically more decent time, the people of Arizona saw their neighbors and co-workers for the real stars that they are.

    • SK says

      This isn’t about race or ethnicity, it’s about whether or not we enforce immigration laws. But if you don’t believe in open borders, you get called racist and your ideas are censured. (I see you deleted my comment Andrea. So much for open discourse at the LA “Progressive.”)

      • says

        SK: Nope. Andrea doesn’t have the power to delete comments here. Only Sharon and I do, and we only do that for death threats and excessive vulgarity, or when something is obviously spam. It’s possible your comment got caught in the spam filter, but we encourage commentary. — Dick

      • Tom says

        Actually, S.K., this is NOT about enforcing immigration laws.

        If you actually READ the Arizona law, you will see that, in two separate places, it actually makes it a CRIME for a citizen to file a “frivolous” complaint against an employer for knowingly hiring illegal workers.

        We can attack the thousands of illegals who come here for work, or IF we actually wanted results, we could place very high penalties, like confiscatory fines, or real prison time, on employers who entice and hire illegals, then deduct SSI from their paychecks but pocket that money instead of turning it over to the SS system.

        But the reason people think such bills are racist is that the Teabag/Republicans oppose EVERY effort to penalize businesses that profit from hiring illegal workers. They oppose every effort to make the wealthy obey the laws, while missing NO chance to dump on the poorest of the poor workers who just want to earn enough to feed their families.


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