October 2, 2006
recent article in the Houston Chronicle discusses the problem of so-called
anchor babies, children born in U.S. hospitals to illegal immigrant parents.
These children automatically become citizens, and thus serve as an anchor
for their parents to remain in the country. Our immigration authorities
understandably are reluctant to break up families by deporting parents of young
birthright citizenship, originating in the 14th amendment, has become
a serious cultural and economic dilemma for our nation.
some Houston hospitals, administrators estimate that 70 or 80% of the babies
born have parents who are in the country illegally.
As an obstetrician in south Texas for several decades, I can attest to
the severity of the problem.
Itís the same story in California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
And the truth is most illegal immigrants who have babies in U.S.
hospitals do not have health insurance and do not pay their hospital bills.
obviously cannot be sustained, either by the hospitals involved or the taxpayers
who end up paying the bills.
other wealthy, western nations grant automatic citizenship to those who simply
happen to be born within their borders to non-citizens.
These nations recognize that citizenship involves more than the physical
location of oneís birth; it also involves some measure of cultural connection
In most cases this means the parents must be citizens of a nation in
order for their newborn children to receive automatic citizenship.
no mistake, Americans are happy to welcome immigrants who follow our immigration
laws and seek a better life here.
America is far more welcoming and tolerant of newcomers than virtually
any nation on earth.
But our modern welfare state creates perverse incentives for immigrants,
incentives that cloud the issue of why people choose to come here.
The real problem is not immigration, but rather the welfare state magnet.
bear the costs when illegal immigrants enter the country for the express purpose
of giving birth.
But illegal immigrants also use emergency rooms, public roads, and public
many cases they are able to obtain Medicaid, food stamps, public housing, and
even unemployment benefits.
Some have fraudulently collected Social Security benefits.
course many American citizens also use or abuse the welfare system.
But we cannot afford to open our pocketbooks to the rest of the world.
We must end the perverse incentives that encourage immigrants to come
here illegally, including the anchor baby incentive.
introduced legislation that would amend the Constitution and end automatic
The 14th amendment was ratified in 1868, on the heels of the
Civil War. The
country, especially the western territories, was wide open and ripe for
was no welfare state to exploit, and the modern problems associated with
immigration could not have been imagined.
founders knew that unforeseen problems with our system of government would
arise, and thatís precisely why they gave us a method for amending the
time to rethink birthright citizenship by amending the 14th