During a discussion about immigration this morning on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade used the term "anchor babies" to describe children of undocumented immigrants. However, unlike other instances on Fox when the term has been used, today the network used it as a legitimate term, as though this was the accepted phrase to use when discussing immigration, blatantly disregarding the fact that the term "anchor babies" has been called "derogatory, even racist."
Fox News promoted Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's claim that the federal government has failed to "do its job" on border security without mentioning that border security efforts have increased measurably under President Obama: Deportations, drug seizures, and the number of Border Patrol agents have all increased.
Among the many derogatory labels that have been deployed by anti-immigrant activists to shape the public debate over immigration, few are as ugly or as potent as the term "anchor baby." Used to describe a child of undocumented immigrants born in the United States and thus entitled to American citizenship, it's a nasty turn of phrase that simultaneously dehumanizes a child and impugns the integrity of the parents, who are presumed to have jumped the border just before birth so that they might benefit from their baby's U.S. citizenship. For demagogues, "anchor babies" are a very serious issue -- one California anti-immigration activist told the Los Angeles Times in 2009: "It's invasion by birth canal."
It's long been understood, however, that the "anchor baby" phenomenon was a myth. Indeed, a child born to non-citizen parents can not sponsor them for citizenship until he or she turns 21, and even then there are legal hurdles aplenty. But the term has persisted in the media as state legislatures and even some congressional Republicans have pushed "anchor baby" legislation aimed at denying citizenship to children of illegal immigrants, citing dubious legal interpretations of the 14th Amendment. Newly released data, however, confirms what we already suspected was the truth: "anchor babies" are a myth.
A Pew Hispanic Center report released yesterday found that of all the undocumented immigrants who became parents between March 2009 and March 2010, 91 percent arrived in the U.S. before 2007. Put simply, those immigrants came here for reasons other than quickie-citizenship for their offspring. As The American Prospect's Adam Serwer wrote: "The data suggests a really shocking conclusion: People come to the U.S. to get jobs, not to have babies."
That's not going to stop the activists who popularized the term from using it -- they have their agendas, after all -- and it's not likely to disappear from Fox News, where just last month Bill O'Reilly decried the "misuse" of the Constitution by "foreigners" who "sneak across our borders to give birth." [The O'Reilly Factor, 1/6/11] But the new data should impel the more responsible corners of the press to cease the blithe repetitions of the term and allowing demagogues to tip the rhetorical debate in their favor.
From the January 31 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the January 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends
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Fox News lauded Republicans' ceremonial reading of the U.S. Constitution on the House floor. However, Fox News figures have boosted right-wing efforts to change birthright citizenship as provided by the 14th Amendment in order to exclude the children of illegal immigrants.
From the January 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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This afternoon on Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly spoke with Peter Johnson Jr. about the current legal challenges to birthright citizenship, as established by the 14th Amendment, and gave a wildly dishonest reading of the law and precedent to suggest that conferring citizenship based on birthplace is unconstitutional.
The segment is clipped below.
The 14th Amendment states:
All 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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Johnson said that the "constitutional argument today that's being made is that the folks who are illegal immigrants, undocumented aliens, are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States as defined in the 14th Amendment." Kelly said there's a "shocking dearth of Supreme Court precedent on this. ... There's not a lot of cases out there that take up the issue about what the 14th Amendment was meant to speak to." They briefly discussed the 1898 case United States v. Wong Kim Ark, which held that a child born in the U.S. to parents who were "subjects of the Emperor of China" was, in fact, a U.S. citizen. Johnson, however, dismissed that ruling as "political," as opposed to "constitutional," and a "weak" precedent.
Actress Penelope Cruz recently gave an interview to a Spanish television program in which she said that she and actor Javier Bardem plan to have their first child in Los Angeles so that the child will have dual nationality (Cruz is a Spanish citizen). Fox News Latino reported the news under the headline: "Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are Having an Anchor Baby."
Fox News has a history of using the term "anchor baby" when reporting on issues of immigration. The term was described by the Rocky Mountain News as "derogatory, even racist, because it implies that Hispanics are having children as a way to stay in the U.S."
Screenshot of the Fox News Latino article below:
Fox News uncritically reported the false claim that the DREAM Act would offer "a free ride to college" to certain unauthorized immigrants.
News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, said at a House subcommittee hearing recently that Fox News, which News Corp. owns, is not "anti-immigrant." In fact, Fox News routinely polarizes and degrades the debate over immigration issues with outright falsehoods, fearmongering, and outrageous rhetoric that is hostile to immigrants.
Fox News claimed that a draft policy under consideration by Immigration and Customs Enforcement means the government is "inching toward" the point of "completely giving a free pass to all illegals who haven't committed a crime." In fact, the policy restricts only who will be detained, not who will be deported, and ICE continues to remove large numbers of non-criminal unauthorized immigrants from the country.
Fox News' America Live repeatedly hosts Lou Dobbs to mislead on immigration issues, despite his history of making false and absurd claims on the issue, such grossly overestimating the number of new leprosy cases in the U.S. and blaming that distorted figure on immigrants.
Yesterday on Fox News' Your World, Neil Cavuto and Monica Crowley discussed an alleged drunken-driving incident in Virginia in which a Catholic nun was killed and two others were injured. Cavuto and Crowley were displeased that newspapers had not properly obsessed over the fact that the driver involved is an undocumented immigrant, which Crowley declared to be "the most consequential detail to the story." Crowley used the incident to make the preposterous assertion that "most of the violent crime that we are seeing comes out of the illegal immigration community."
From the August 2 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees:
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