The number of U.S. anchor babies is actually decreasing and is way lower than the figure given by Republican Donald Trump. In the run up to the 2016 primaries, immigration has taken center stage. Through fielding wrong estimates for the number of immigrant anchor babies, the Republicans are gaining leverage based on misinformation and blatant misrepresentation of facts.
“Anchor babies” is a derogatory term used by GOP candidate Trump to refer to babies born by undocumented persons so that their children can be U.S. citizens. Through these babies, the non-citizen parents can proceed to live off U.S. government and eventually attain their own citizenship.
Donald Trump recently said that the number of these anchor babies was increasing. Trump’s campaign chief Corey Lewandowski even went ahead to state in an interview with CNN this August, “If you think of the term anchor baby, which is those individuals coming to our country and having children here so that their children can be U.S. citizens, there's 400,000 of those taking place on a yearly basis. To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent of the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 47th largest city in our country.”
However, the number fronted by the billionaire candidate’s team is actually incorrect. The number of U.S. anchor babies is reducing, according to a research by Pew Researchers. The research estimated the number of undocumented parent births to 295,000 in 2013, way lower than the 370,000 figure recorded in 2007, indicating their number was reducing. Trump’s figure of 400,000 is actually lower than any figure of these anchor babies recorded in the last two decades.
Though the anchor babies are intended to be used by undocumented immigrants as a tool to gain U.S. citizenship, their birth often does not automatically hand their parents U.S. citizenship, neither do they qualify the parents for government benefits. In many cases, they are actually deported.
According to Washington Post journalist Janell Ross, “For illegal immigrant parents, being the parent of a U.S. citizen child almost never forms the core of a successful defense in an immigration court. In short, if the undocumented parent of a U.S.-born child is caught in the United States, he or she legally faces the very same risk of deportation as any other immigrant.”
According to the Huffington Post, 70,000 undocumented immigrant parents were deported in 2013.
Trump recently sent tongues wagging when he said he would deport the estimated 11 million immigrants out of the U.S. if he became president. That was not all, he also stated he would end automatic citizenship for these anchor babies, build a border along the U.S.-Mexico border and end the green card program.
Trump’s policies have seen him become an “enemy number one” for the U.S. migrant population and a favorite for Americans skeptical of the U.S.’s accommodation of migrants. Colorfully exaggerating their figure, however, may serve to bring his polling figures down rather than build his brand.