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Nation: With the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, is pushing for leigslation that would allow Arizona "to refuse to accept or issue a birth certificate that recognizes citizenship to those born to illegal aliens, unless one parent is a citizen." Activists are fighting the stereotypes that conservatives are disseminating about so-called "anchor babies," and while the legislation is gaining traction and publicity, it does not ensure long-term legal success. After all, citizenship by place of birth, is a centuries-old tradition in English and American common law and jurisprudence.
"Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the father of SB 1070, has a new target in his cross hairs: "anchor babies," the ugly epithet used to label children born of undocumented immigrants. The senator's newest legislative provocation would allow Arizona "to refuse to accept or issue a birth certificate that recognizes citizenship to those born to illegal aliens, unless one parent is a citizen," as he recently explained to his supporters. Crudely labeled "anchor baby bills" by the media, similar efforts are brewing in California, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Congress. On July 28, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham became the latest to join the assault on birthright citizenship, calling it a "mistake" and announcing that he may introduce a constitutional amendment to deny automatic citizenship to the children of immigrants who "come here to drop a child." "To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child's automatically an American citizen," he said. "That shouldn't be the case."
Graham's rhetoric echoed that of e-mail, widely circulated by Pearce, that explains the logic behind the strategy: "If we are going to have an effect on the anchor baby racket, we need to target the mother. Call it sexist, but that's the way nature made it. Men don't drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do." This statement—which Pearce has publicly defended—comes from a man named Al Garza, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a former top official in the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps and founder of the Patriots Coalition, whose website includes jokes about assassinating President Obama.
Pearce and his ilk are capitalizing on a concept with old nativist roots that is lending new potency to the assault on Latino immigrants. Fueled by bogus conspiratorial depictions of newborns delivered moments after their parents cross the border; "emergency alien deliveries" overrunning US hospitals and endangering American lives; and undocumented mothers having children in order to collect public benefits on taxpayers' backs, the anti-immigrant right is demonizing babies as the weapon of choice for armies of 'illegals.'"