Rep. Paul Ryan may have emerged as a leader on immigration reform, but he’s still got a thing or two to learn about the issue.
The Wisconsin Republican and last year’s GOP vice presidential candidate used the slur “anchor babies” during a town hall meeting this week, according to Think Progress.
When responding to a question, Ryan says:
To the anchor baby issue -- they call it anchor babies -- which is when a person comes, has a child here. If you’re born here, you’re a naturalized citizen. You have to change the Constitution… But it’s really treating a symptom, right? People are coming across the border illegally or overstaying their visas. And therefore illegal immigration is fairly easy, and then people are having what’s called anchor babies.
Not everyone, in fact, "call it anchor babies.” It’s a term commonly used among nativist groups and it’s viewed as a slur.
The American Heritage Dictionary classifies the term as “offensive,” defining it as a “disparaging term for a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil especially when the child’s birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother’s or other relatives’ chances of securing eventual citizenship.”
And if you’re born here, you’re not a naturalized citizen. Those born in the United States are entitled to citizenship by the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Naturalization is the process of adopting the citizenship of a new country.
The slur particularly grates on Latino ears. Some 81 percent of undocumented immigrants in the United States are Latin American.
But though Ryan doesn’t have a firm grasp on how to talk about immigration without using offensive slurs, he'll probably figure it out soon since he's emerging as a leader in the House of Representatives on the issue.
One of Ryan’s favorite bands is Rage Against the Machine, which may or may not possibly have something to do with his support for immigration reform.
Check out 5 Rage Against the Machine quotes that might have influenced Paul Ryan to back immigration reform in the slideshow below.