The list distributed last week by an anonymous Utah group providing information on potential illegal immigrants has caused a general uproar - lack of privacy, leaking of sensitive information, suggestions of vigilante justice, etc.
However, the list issue that has received the least attention is the one that will prove one of the biggest political issues of next year: the birth of babies to undocumented parents. The disclosure of information detailing the pregnancy due dates of Latinas and how many children they have draws attention to the growing hostility toward Latino children both born and unborn.
In accordance with federal law, any child born on U.S. soil is automatically a U.S. citizen. The documentation status of the parents is irrelevant. If you're born here, you're a citizen. As of late, the children born in the U.S. to undocumented parents have been labeled anchor babies. The gist behind this term is that having a child born on U.S. soil is a free pass to citizenship for the illegal parents of the child.
The idea that a child can act as an anchor is false. So much so, that one of the biggest motivators to getting immigration reform passed is to keep mixed families from being torn apart. The stories of kids coming home from school and finding out that their parents will not be coming home, ever, because they were caught in a raid and deported are not uncommon.
Citizen children of non-citizens can petition for their parent's citizenship after the age of 21. But even then, the petition is not assured approval. There are special circumstances where an undocumented immigrant who has been detained can request a special stay if they have resided in the United States for over 10 years and have a citizen parent or a child for which they are responsible. These stays, however, are not often requested and even less often granted.
The issue of anchor babies is soon to go from rhetoric to legislation. With its Latina pregnancy and child list, Utah sent the signal and Arizona is taking the ball and running with it. Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, who authored SB 1070, has already drafted legislation to deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona to undocumented parents.
The 14th Amendment of the Constitution clearly states that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the state of residence. More specifically, the 14th Amendment goes on to state that, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States..." No special exception is provided for Arizona.
Instances of vigilantism toward Latinos have and continue to take place. The Utah list that explicitly provides information on Latina pregnancies, their due dates, and their children suggests the potential for a horrible new brand of vigilantism - targeting pregnant Latinas and children.
With the new focus on the born and unborn babies of immigrants, the immigration issue has been taken to a new disturbing level. The denial of citizenship to U.S. born babies smacks in the face of the Constitution. The more serious issue, however, is the human rights violations that may take place if the anchor baby fires are stoked.
Follow Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrVMDS