Fox & Friends repeatedly lauded presidential candidate Donald Trump's use the derogatory term “anchor babies” to describe the children of immigrants despite the fact that the term has long been characterized as offensive and disparaging, and is used to hype a phenomenon that, according to experts, is not supported by evidence.
Trump Releases Immigration Position Paper Focused On Repealing The Fourteenth Amendment To End Birthright Citizenship
AP: Trump's Immigration Plan Would Deny Citizenship To Babies Of Undocumented Immigrants Born In The U.S. Donald Trump's newly released immigration plan calls for Mexico to pay for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and seeks an end birthright citizenship, as the Associated Press explained:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to deny citizenship to the babies of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally as part of an immigration plan that emphasizes border security and deportation for millions.
He would also rescind Obama administration executive orders on immigration.
Trump described his expanded vision of how to secure American borders during a wide-ranging interview Sunday on NBC's “Meet The Press,” saying that he would push to end the constitutionally protected citizenship rights of children of any family living illegally inside the U.S.
“They have to go,” Trump said, adding: “What they're doing, they're having a baby. And then all of a sudden, nobody knows ... the baby's here.”
Native-born children of immigrants -- even those living illegally in the U.S. -- have been automatically considered American citizens since the adoption of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution in 1868. [Associated Press, 8/17/15; donaldjtrump.com, accessed 8/19/15]
Trump Defends His Immigration Plan To End Birthright Citizenship By Claiming “Anchor Babies” Are Not American Citizens
Donald Trump: “Anchor Babies” Are Not American Citizens. On the August 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Donald Trump repeatedly referred to the children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States as “anchor babies,” and insisted they are not American citizens:
TRUMP: Bill, I think you're wrong about the Fourteenth Amendment and, frankly, the whole thing with anchor babies and the concept of anchor babies. I don't think you're right about that.
O'REILLY: I can quote it. You want me to quote you the Amendment? If you're born here, you're an American. Period! Period!
TRUMP: But there are many lawyers, many lawyers are saying that's not the way it is in terms of this. What happens is, they're in Mexico, they're going to have a baby, they move over here for a couple of days, they have the baby -- no but Bill, they're saying it's not going to hold up in court. Now, it's going to have to be tested, but they say it's not going to hold up in court. Regardless, when people are illegally in the country, they have to go. Now, the good ones -- and there are plenty of good ones -- so it's expedited, we can expedite it where they come back in, but they come back legally. Bill, we have a country, you need borders and you need law, we have no law.
O'REILLY: For decades I've been saying that, but you are not going to be able to deport people who have American citizenship now, and the federal courts will never allow mass deportations without due process for each and every one. And do you envision federal police kicking in the doors in barrios around the country dragging families out and putting them on a bus? Do you envision that?
TRUMP: Bill, I don't think they have American citizenship, and if you speak to some very, very good lawyers, and I know some will disagree, but many of them agree with me, you're going to find they do not have American citizenship. We have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell. We have to start a process, Bill, where we take back our country.
O'REILLY: Now, there is a way to do it, and that is to try to get the Constitution amended. Do you know how to do that?
TRUMP: It's a long process and I think it would take too long. I'd much rather find out whether or not anchor babies are actually citizens. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 8/18/15]
Trump Refused To Stop Using “Offensive Language” About Children Of Immigrants
LA Times: Donald Trump Pledged To Continue Using “Anchor Baby” Slur To Describe Children Of Immigrants, Despite Its Offensiveness. The LA Times reported that during an August 19 New Hampshire campaign event, “Trump said he had no intention of changing the terms” he used to describe children of immigrants “when a reporter asked him before the town hall about accusations that he used offensive language” to describe them:
When a reporter asked [Trump] before the town hall about accusations that he used offensive language about children of immigrants, Trump said he had no intention of changing the terms of the immigration debate.
“People like to say 'undocumented' because it's politically correct,” he said. “I'll use the word 'anchor baby.'” [LA Times, 8/19/15]
Fox & Friends Applauds Trump For Continuing To Use The Term Despite It's Offensiveness
Fox's Anna Kooiman: Trump's “Political Tough Speak,” Like “Anchor Baby” Is What Makes Trump Popular. On the August 20 edition of Fox News' Fox and Friends, host Anna Kooiman commended Mr. Trump for his commitment to using the term despite its offensiveness, saying “that kind of political tough speak is what has made Trump so popular” :
KOOIMAN: Yeah, and that political tough speak is what has made Trump so popular, and he continued talking about that -- you know, ,being politically correct is not something I'm going to try to be. If you make me President I'm going to make America great again and I'm going let you say merry Christmas, and he goes on and on." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/20/15]
Fox's Brian Kilmeade: “A Lot Of People Think ['Anchor Baby'] Would Be A Compliment.” Co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy defended Trump's use of the term, arguing that without using the term, “it's very complicated to describe” children of immigrants, and “a lot of people think that would be a compliment:”
DOOCY: So, you know, some on the political left say 'anchor babies' is a derogatory term. Mr. Trump, who is not PC says he's going continue to use it. What term would you use? Email us, Facebook us.
KILMEADE: Because we're open. We're open -- we're not going to say nine sentences to describe something.
DOOCY: It's very complicated to describe the people who are taking advantage of this.
KILMEADE: Because the baby once born here is anchored here. A lot of people think that would be a compliment.
DOOCY: It anchors the whole family to the United States. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/20/15]
Fox's Steve Doocy Justified Use Of “Anchor Baby,” Saying “The Baby Anchors The Family To The United States.” Doocy justified Trump's use of the term claiming that when undocumented immigrants have children in the U.S. “the baby anchors the family” to the country:
DOOCY: Meanwhile, going back to the fact that he has really caught fire with his immigration stance, yesterday Jeb Bush was on the radio with Bill Bennett, his Morning in America radio show, and he was talking about the Fourteenth amendment, kids who are automatically granted status, and Jeb Bush referred to them as 'anchor babies,' which a lot of people have used that term because...
KILMEADE: I--we always use it don't we?
DOOCY: The baby anchors the family to the United States. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/20/15]
Fox's Brian Kilmeade Applauded Trump's Commitment To The Term Despite Its Offensiveness: “This Is What I Hope That All Candidates Get From Donald Trump.” Kilmeade defended Trump's use of the term, arguing “it's to the point, it's understood, I don't see how it would be derogatory” :
DOOCY: There was a reporter who tried to pin Mr. Trump down on his use of 'anchor babies' and then this happened.
KILMEADE: It's to the point, it's understood, I don't see how it would be derogatory. The first time I really heard that it was a negative connotation was yesterday! But everyone is still using it. Jeb Bush was using it yesterday. You have Donald Trump going to bat for it. This is what I hope that all the candidates get from Donald Trump if nothing else--they should not walk around in fear of saying the wrong thing. If you say something at 9 AM, you have to apologize at 5. He says something like this -- well okay, you have a problem with it, instead of panicking, having a bunch of people going 'oh my goodness you just insulted somebody,' he just sat there and said 'okay, I'm going to stick with it.' [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/20/15]
Term Has Long Been Characterized As “Disparaging”
American Heritage Dictionary: Term “Anchor Baby” Is "Used As A Disparaging Term." According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the expression is defined as an “offensive” term:
Used as a disparaging term for a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially when the child's birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother's or other relatives' chances of securing eventual citizenship. [American Heritage Dictionary, Accessed 8/20/15]
Hispanic Leadership Network: Phrase “Anchor Baby” Should Never Be Used. According to one of the leading conservative Latino groups, the Hispanic Leadership Network, the term “anchor baby” should be nixed from the vocabulary of both Members of Congress and the media:
When talking about immigrants: Do use 'undocumented immigrant' when referring to those here without documentation. Don't use the word 'illegals' or 'aliens'. Don't use the term 'anchor baby' [The Hill, 1/28/13, ThinkProgress, 8/13/15]
Phenomenon Of Undocumented Immigrants Coming To The U.S. Specifically To Have Children Is A Conservative Myth
American Immigration Council: “There's No Evidence That Birth Tourism Is A Widespread Problem.” The American Immigration Council explained in 2011, “There's no evidence that birth tourism is a widespread problem,” but “surveys of undocumented workers have made indelibly clear that they don't come here to have 'anchor babies,'... they come here for jobs” :
Indeed, as the story notes, the “anchor baby” problem is a statistical pimple:
“There's no evidence that birth tourism is a widespread problem,” said Michele Waslin, a senior policy analyst with the Immigration Policy Center. “There are ways to dealing with that issue without such sweeping changes. This is like using a sledgehammer, not a scalpel.”
Surveys of undocumented workers have made indelibly clear that they don't come here to have “anchor babies,” or to get our free health care, or any of the other fantasies harbored by nativists: they come here for jobs. [American Immigration Council, 4/8/11]
Associated Press: “Immigration Experts Say It's Extraordinarily Rare For Immigrants To Come To The U.S. Just So They Can Have Babies.” In a 2010 article, the Associated Press reported that “immigration experts say it's extraordinarily rare for immigrants to come to the U.S. just so they can have babies and get citizenship. In most cases, they come to the U.S. for economic reasons and better hospitals, and end up staying and raising families.” [Associated Press, 9/3/10]
PolitiFact: “Data Suggests That The Motivator For Illegal Immigrants Is The Search For Work And A Better Economic Standing Over The Long Term, Not Quickie Citizenship For U.S.-Born Babies.” In 2010, PolitiFact explained that "[i]mmigration data and surveys don't provide much support for ... [the] notion that many women are illegally crossing the border in large numbers to have children, then leaving." PolitiFact wrote that in reality, “The data suggests that the motivator for illegal immigrants is the search for work and a better economic standing over the long term, not quickie citizenship for U.S.-born babies” :
Immigration data and surveys don't provide much support for Graham's notion that many women are illegally crossing the border in large numbers to have children, then leaving.
Undoubtedly, citizenship plays some role in the decisions by undocumented immigrants to come to the U.S. After all, they have made a decision to make their future in the United States rather than in their home country, and part of building a better life in the U.S. is having citizenship for their children. But on Fox, Graham termed the practice “drop and leave,” which suggests that illegal immigrants are coming here for the primary purpose of having babies with citizenship, then rushing home to wherever they came from.
Graham's comments on this are misleading. While that does appear to be happening with affluent “birth tourists,” it's important to understand that those affluent “birth tourists” are not the ones illegally crossing the Rio Grande or the Sonoran desert. They are coming here with the proper legal papers and giving birth. Thus, whatever public policy challenges arise from “birth tourism” are separate and distinct from the public policy challenges of illegal immigration -- which is not at all the impression that Graham gave in his Fox appearance.
It's true that many illegal immigrants are having children in the U.S. However, we are not convinced that “drop and leave” is a phenomenon. The data suggests that the motivator for illegal immigrants is the search for work and a better economic standing over the long term, not quickie citizenship for U.S.-born babies. Graham appears to be conflating two things -- a pattern of wealthy foreigners engaging in “birth tourism” using legal visas, and illegal immigration of poorer people from Mexico. In our view, failing to make the distinction exaggerates the alleged problem and uses inflammatory rhetoric to obscure legitimate policy questions. On balance, we rate his comment Half True. [PolitiFact, 8/6/10]
Center For American Progress: “There Is No Immigration-Based, Self-Interested Incentive For Immigrants To Have Babies In The United States.” The Center For American Progress explained, “There is no immigration-based, self-interested incentive for immigrants to have babies in the United States” because “no immigration benefit can accrue to the parent of a child born on U.S. soil for at least 21 years, and more typically, 31 years” :
The ugly term “anchor baby” derives from a fundamental fiction. There is no immigration-based self-interested incentive for immigrants to have babies in the United States. No immigration benefit can accrue to the parent of a child born on U.S. soil for at least 21 years, and more typically 31 years. A child has to turn 21 before he or she can sponsor anyone for permanent residence. But the parent will, in most cases, have to live outside the country for a 10-year period before becoming a permanent resident because of their unlawful status. [Center For American Progress, August 2010]