One of the more insidious and cynical plots being orchestrated by the conservative elites has to do with “anchor babies.” I didn’t want to talk about some of the more outrageous recent rantings of the right because it’s clear to me that the power players have just un-muzzled their neo-Nazis (pseudo and self-recognized, alike; you know who I’m talking about) to get everyone foaming at the mouth in time for the upcoming election.
But, for Christ’s sake, leave the babies out of it! They can’t even gurgle out a proper defense yet.
From Goldwater to George H. W. Bush, modern Republican presidencies were won on white America’s fears of societal decay at the hands of “the black man.” I’m serious; look up the political etymology of “states' rights” and later the innuendo attached to “urban,” “drugs,” and “crime.” All of those words were strategically wielded to put the image of a troubled, black, 20-something male in your mind. Anyone remember Willie Horton? I don’t, because I was 3 years old, but I bothered to learn my history… you know, so as not to repeat it.
More recently, elections have been won on “social issues” and scare tactics – anyone remember how in 2004 we were going to simultaneously provoke terror attacks by electing John Kerry and encourage men to leave their cookie-baking wives to tie the knot with Jesus-hating livestock if we didn’t ban gay marriage? Sounds kooky in retrospect, right?
This year, they tried to touch back to their long-time whipping boy early in the election season, but this time around, with Obama in the White House and most of white America really wanting to pretend like America is over its race issues, only the tone-deaf keep beating that horse. And of course, no one fears the gays in an economic downturn, not even with the anti-Prop 8 ruling allowing them to construct stable and loving households in California.
“The gays are after my job? That’s just a non sequitur,” says Joe the Plumber, “I’m not a hairdresser.”
No, the Republicans needed something that let them scare the shit out of penny-pinched America (and, why not, play another race card? It’s what they do best):
“No, Joe. José is after your job. And he’s got an anchor baby with him.”
Now, I think that the Republican line runs dangerously close to the manic babbling of that guy at the bus station who smells like cabbage far too often, but the remaining screws wiggle their way out in election years. This cycle has seen the far right ranting about everything from death panels, to landmines at the border (I hear it’s working out great in Cambodia), to a certain Arizona law containing portions frighteningly reminiscent of totalitarian mandates like the Soviet Union’s internal passports (once again, I was 6 when the Soviet Union fell, but I’ve bothered to read a few books in my time). Lord knows that list is shorter than it should be, but – thank God – I don’t have access to Fox News in Brazil. Envy me.
As much as I want to scream myself hoarse about the injustices of US immigration policies, doing it right now plays into their cynical little election-grubbing hands, so in this blog I try to write about my life and put a human (and, yes, American) face on the issue. A lot of the further-flung Republican diatribes don’t get much space here, therefore, but a certain Senator Sessions decided to hit a little too close to home…
…my current home (thanks to US immigration law): Brazil…
Speaking on the subject of “anchor babies,” the Senator said, “I'm not sure exactly what the drafters of the (14th) amendment had in mind, but I doubt it was that somebody could fly in from Brazil and have a child and fly back home with that child, and that child is forever an American citizen.”
First off, Senator, have you ever tried to get a Brazilian a visa to the Unites States? I promise you that the good folks who are eligible for a visa are so comfortable in Brazil that they have few incentives to pop out little João on your side of the border. But aside from the fact that Senator Sessions probably has negligible knowledge about the nation he’s scapegoating, the whole idea of “anchor babies” is ludicrous!
Since the American media doesn’t bother to actually investigate or report anymore, I had to turn to the BBC for an article that actually explains how the “anchor baby” hype is a massive hoax at the expense of the Constitution.
Why do the Brits know more about US immigration laws than Americans? I have to think that it’s because if Americans knew more cold, hard facts about our immigration law, they wouldn’t stand for it. (I have to think that for my own emotional wellbeing.)
The article succinctly described what a wagonload of bullshit the US is gulping down:
“… having a child in the US is no guarantee that a parent will be able to stay. American-born children cannot petition for green cards for their parents until they have turned 21. Then, if the parent is found to be in the country illegally, they must leave the country and are banned from re-entering legally for 10 years. That means, presuming the parent has stayed in the country to raise their child, an illegal immigrant must wait 31 years to reap the rewards of their child’s US passport. ...[Moreover,] having an American-born child is no protection from deportation.”
So here’s my theory: the extreme right is after “anchor babies” because it’s a weakness in their extremist rhetoric. Why? Because these policies have human victims and (not like it should matter but some people think it does) American victims… American victims with a 6-year-old’s pool parties, back-to-school shopping, and awkward middle school dances. They are American kids. They are friends with your kids. And as heartless – or just cynical – as Senator Sessions is, most Americans don’t like the idea that those kids wouldn’t have mom to catch them at the end of the water slide, dad to buy them crayons and safety scissors, or an older sister to smuggle them their first tube of lipstick – because of deportation.
As stated in the article: “the Pew Hispanic Center estimates there are about four million American-born children of illegal immigrants under the age of 18 currently in the US... Pew estimates that last year 7-8% of births in America (or around 350,000) were to undocumented mothers.”
These dads aren’t firing their semen into birth mules who waddle with swollen feet across the border to pop a squat in America, although some Republican out there is glad that I painted that image and hopes it drives you to the polls. These are families. And with deportations estimated to top out well over 300,000 for the last several years, that’s a lot of children who have every right to worry whether they’ll be picked up after school, whether mom will be at the 5th grade play, or whether dad will be able to bring orange slices for the Saturday morning soccer game halftime.
I hope that most of my fellow countrymen would feel their skin crawl thinking about a childhood like that.
So, the theory goes that the far-right is trying to get out in front of this one. Think you can’t demonize puppies or babies? Have you met the Republican Party? By the time people realize that they’ve been frothing at the mouth about 8-year-olds who live daily with a situation that gave me ulcers in less than 6 months, well, the elections will be over, and the Republicans will be magnificently ensconced in several more Congressional offices. And the Democrats will probably fall all over themselves to lie on the pavement for the GOP victory lap.
And just to get you shaking your heads at the Republicans’ evil genius: the article adds that “it's highly unlikely that the senators will be successful in altering the 14th amendment. Changes to the US constitution must be passed by a two-thirds vote of each chamber of Congress and then ratified by three-quarters of states - either by the state legislatures or state-based constitutional conventions.”
That’s right. The 14th amendment has never been in any real danger. Oh, but our country is.