630 KHOW-AM host Peter Boyles recently repeated the falsehood that a baby born in the United States to illegal immigrants “anchors the mom and the family here.” In fact, simply having children does not change the parents' immigration status, and it does not stay deportation proceedings.
During the December 18 broadcast of his 630 KHOW-AM radio show, host Peter Boyles reiterated the myth that children born in the United States to illegal immigrants -- so-called “anchor babies” -- exempt their parents from deportation. In fact, federal courts have “upheld the refusal by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (I.N.S.) to stay the deportation of illegal aliens” simply because they have children who are U.S.-born, according to a report by Congress' public policy research arm. Furthermore, federal law stipulates that U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants must wait until they are 21 to petition for their parents to be given legal status.
As Colorado Media Matters has noted, anti-immigration activists contend that, under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, children who are U.S. citizens at birth “anchor” parents who are in the country illegally to the United States and qualify them for access to some government services. While discussing the December 12 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid of the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Greeley on his December 18 broadcast, Boyles described the history of the 14th Amendment and went on to suggest that it was being applied to grant special favor to someone who would “break into the country illegally and have a child.” Boyles told a caller that because of the 14th Amendment, an illegal immigrant who gives birth to a baby in the United States is “not going anywhere. The baby's the anchor. The baby anchors the mom and the family here.”
When the caller disagreed with Boyles' assertion that "[m]om's not going to jail if the baby was born here," Boyles stated, "[M]y friend, you can believe the moon is green cheese, but if that woman who was working in the Swift plant had a baby born in Greeley, Colorado, last year or 10 days ago, she's not going anywhere."
In fact, the birth of a child in the United States does not affect either parent's immigration status. A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress -- “U.S. Citizenship of Persons Born in the United States to Alien Parents” -- noted in its May 12 update that "[f]ederal appellate courts have upheld the refusal by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (I.N.S.) to stay the deportation of illegal aliens merely on the grounds that they have U.S.-citizen, minor children, because to do so would be unfairly to grant an advantage to aliens who successfully flouted U.S. immigration laws long enough to have a child born in the United States over those aliens who followed the law, and would turn the immigration statute on its head." The report further specified that “the mere fact of the existence of U.S.-citizen, minor children would not be sufficient to prevent the deportation of illegal alien parents.”
It is true, as the CRS report notes, that “extreme hardship to the children caused by the deportation of the parents is a factor to be considered in the discretionary suspension of deportation.” But such discretion lies with the attorney general, and the courts have indicated that suspension of deportation is not to be granted lightly:
The United States Supreme Court has upheld the discretion of the Attorney General and the I.N.S. to define “extreme hardship” under proceedings for the suspension of deportation and to deny suspension of deportation and refuse to reopen proceedings for the suspension of deportation even if a prima facie case for suspension is demonstrated. The Court held that a court could not substitute a liberal definition of “extreme hardship” for a narrow one preferred by the Attorney General and the I.N.S., noting that otherwise “any foreign visitor who has fertility, money, and the ability to stay out of trouble with the police for seven years can change his status from that of tourist or student to that of permanent resident without the inconvenience of immigration quotas. This strategy is not fair to those waiting for a quota.”
Federal courts have found that this requirement is meant “to prevent wholesale circumvention of the immigration laws by persons who enter the country illegally and promptly have children to avoid deportation,” and does not violate equal protection by distinguishing between U.S.-citizen children who are minors and those who have attained majority.
Asked about what happens to children of illegal immigrants when the parents are deported, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said, “Normally, the parent takes the kids with them,” according to a December 7 article in the Houston Chronicle. Rusnok explained that "[i]f ICE knows that a single parent is being deported, they give the parent the option of having the children deported with them, at ICE's expense."
In addition to repeating the falsehood about “anchor babies” during the broadcast, Boyles urged a caller concerned with the plight of illegal immigrant families to “put [his] moral needs aside.” Boyles then expressed his concern for “the American taxpayer that's picking up the burden.”
From the December 18 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show:
CALLER: I don't know what religion you are, but, just out of curiosity, if you do have a religion --
CALLER: -- does it teach you compassion and morals, and, and if so, what does that weigh in on your side of the thinking towards these babies?
BOYLES: Well, tell me what you mean, 'cause I'm -- what babies?
CALLER: The babies that -- where the parents were left behind. The babies that are born in America.
BOYLES: The so-called anchor, the 14th. I think what we have to do -- I can tell you about my faith -- but what we, we have -- look, the 14th Amendment of the Constitution that's being used: Do you know where it, you know when it was brought into the, into the Constitution?
CALLER: I have no idea, Peter.
BOYLES: All right. So -- following the American Civil War, and Andrew Johnson was the president of the United States after Lincoln's killed. And they had literally millions -- they were not African-Americans, they were just simply African slaves. They had no citizenship, they had no standing, and Lincoln does the Emancipation, but -- and that's sort of the “but” -- now what? And so, the 14th Amendment was written and confirmed. And what it did is it granted citizenship to the men and women who literally were chattel. And now that's been interpreted now to mean that if you break into this country illegally and have a baby, according to now the interpretation of the 14th, is that now you're a citizen. The, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was brought about because of the end of the American Civil War when, when the men and women and children held in bondage in the South didn't have any standing. So I don't know how you can -- I mean, not you personally -- but how you can make that into “if I break into the country illegally and have a child” that now we're going to apply the 14th Amendment. We're going to have to re-look at the 14th Amendment.
CALLER: Right. It seems like it's so hard for those people to come over here that they have to break the law, and so --
BOYLES: It's not hard. The point -- [caller], it's not hard. I mean, how can you have 18, 20, 21 million people in this country illegally and you tell me it's hard to get in.
CALLER: Well, I'm saying that it is so hard to legally get in otherwise ...
CALLER: ... See, I think it's the babies that need the help.
BOYLES: No. No. No. No. Look, [caller], then how many is enough? And, by the way, should you, even if that -- that aside -- a woman breaks into your house, has a baby in the living room, and hands you that baby. And you say, “I don't want to take care of that baby” -- well, you're going to take care of this baby. “I don't want to take” -- too bad. Legally, you have to take care of the baby -- 'cause, [caller], that's what you're doing.
CALLER: Look, morally I have to take care of it as well --
BOYLES: Morally -- morally shmorally. Whose morals are we using here?
CALLER: That's a baby we're talking about, Peter.
BOYLES: I understand that, but the baby has no business being born here. The baby doesn't belong here.
CALLER: But they do that. That's what I am saying. [unintelligible]
BOYLES: No, we have, we have -- [caller], we have unification. Mom's not going anywhere. The baby's the anchor. The baby anchors mom and the family here.
CALLER: Mom's in jail and being sent back now --
BOYLES: Mom's not going to go to jail if the baby was born here. Don't you get it?
CALLER: Well, no. I -- I don't believe that --
BOYLES: Well, you can believe the moon -- my friend, you can believe the moon is green cheese, but if that woman who was working in the Swift plant had a baby born in Greeley, Colorado, last year or 10 days ago, she's not going anywhere.
CALLER: Well, I, I don't know that, you know -- I don't know how we fix that. I see your point of view ...
BOYLES: Put your moral needs aside. That baby's not going anywhere. Neither is the mom. And if she has two other kids, they're not going anywhere, either.
CALLER: OK. Well, I have, I guess, one last question: Do you feel sorry for these guys, Peter?
BOYLES: Do I feel sorry for who?
CALLER: For the guys that, with --
BOYLES: I feel sorry for the American taxpayer that's picking up the burden. Do you feel sorry for the American taxpayer?
CALLER: Yes, I do. I think the whole sorry situation --
BOYLES: Who do you -- who do you feel more sorry for, the American taxpayer or the illegal?
CALLER: Out of all of them, I guess, the babies, and the American, and then the illegal.
BOYLES: Well then -- but there is no baby if there is no illegal.