Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Another Immigration Myth Debunked

The idea that people give birth to stay in the US has no basis in reality.

An estimated 4.1 million US-citizen children lived with at least one undocumented parent in recent years. They’re kids who anti-immigrant groups disparage as “anchor babies”, a derogatory term that insinuates these children are little more than pawns used by their immigrant parents to get a foothold in the US and eventually become citizens themselves.

It’s a narrative trope that completely misrepresents the harsh realities of America’s current immigration laws, as well as just the natural progression of life, experts suggest.

“People have this notion that you have a child in the United States, now you’re a citizen. It’s what people think because it’s the easy way to explain it. So it’s an easy way to make up a myth,” said David Leopold, an immigration attorney and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “It’s ludicrous to think that that’s some sort of a tactic that people use to come here, get citizenship, ’cause it just isn’t true,” said Leopold. “It’s a myth

It’s true that children born on US soil have been granted citizenship through the 14th amendment to the US constitution, and that a landmark supreme court decision set the precedent for that right to be extended to almost all children of foreigners. But Americans can’t just immediately safeguard their family members from deportation. In fact, a US citizen must be 21 years old before they can sponsor their parents for a green card. They also must be able to financially support their parents.

Now the Trump’s new public charge rule targeting low-income immigrants is adding yet another burden.

Parents who were not inspected and admitted into the US face even more obstacles to changing their immigration status: with limited exceptions, they have to go abroad as part of the legalization process and then often aren’t allowed back into the US for 10 years.

Even if parents do get a green card, they have a five-year holding period before they can finally apply for naturalization.

In the end, the so-called “anchor baby” pathway to citizenship is at least a 26-year endeavor, even for those who entered the US legally.

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