National Data | Born in the U.S.A……to (illegal?) immigrants
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For decades immigration has been the driving force behind U.S. population growth. Although the foreign influx continues, the new arrivals are now outnumbered by babies born to immigrant mothers.

Births to immigrant mothers have quadrupled over the past three decades: [Table1, below.]

  • 228,486 in 1970 ( 6.1 percent of all births)


  • 339,662 in 1980 (9.4 percent of all births)


  • 621,442 in 1990 (14.9 percent of all births)


  • 915,800 in 2002 (22.7 percent of all births)

Even in 1910—the peak of the Great Wave—only 21.9 percent of births were to foreign-born mothers, according to the Center for Immigration Studies' recent report on immigrant births.

Of course, back then the native birth rate was much higher than it is today, while immigration was poised to decline—first as a result of World War I, and later due to the moratorium. Illegal immigration was a rarity—a situation generally conducive to assimilation.

Not so today. Births to illegal alien mothers—AKA "anchor babies"—accounted for a whopping 42 percent of all immigrant births in 2002. That may sound high until you consider that illegals account for at least one-quarter of the total foreign-born population and a still larger share of foreign-born females in the prime child-bearing years, 18 to 39. Moreover, their fertility rate—average number of births per mother of childbearing age—is higher than that of legal immigrants. readers are painfully aware of the Constitutional accident caused by the bizarre 14th Amendment misinterpretation, which confers American citizenship on anyone born in the U.S.—no matter what the legal status of the parents. Every day pregnant Mexicans take cabs to U.S.-border hospitals for the express purpose of giving birth to a U.S. citizen. But the anchor baby craze is no longer limited to border states.

Anchor babies account for 45 percent or more of all immigrant births in 12 states:

  • Arizona, 56.4 percent


  • New Mexico, 55.1 percent  


  • Texas, 54.5 percent 


  • Arkansas, 51.0 percent


  • Colorado, 51.0 percent


  • Nevada, 50.1 percent


  • North Carolina, 48.8 percent


  • Nebraska, 48.2 percent


  • Oklahoma, 47.8 percent


  • Idaho, 47.8 percent


  • California, 47.7 percent


  • Kansas, 46.1 percent

In fact, these percentages probably understate the anchor baby phenomenon. Regulations in federal law require all medical facilities and physicians to treat information on a patient's "immigration status" as confidential. Local sanctuary laws add another layer of opaqueness to the anchor baby count.

As U.S. citizens, anchor babies can stay permanently, can prevent a parent's deportation, and when they become adults, can petition to have their illegal alien parent become a naturalized U.S. citizen. In this Alice in Wonderland world today's illegal immigrants could eventually account for a larger share of the legal foreign-born population than today's legal immigrants.

A modest proposal to President Bush: Make the 14th Amendment the "litmus test" for Supreme Court candidate John Roberts. It directly affects far more Americans than abortion or gay rights. note: As any parent of young children knows, the arrival of babies is a tremendous financial disaster – whatever the overall benefits. The fact that immigrants are altering their behavior so rapidly testifies to how much more welcoming the authorities have made the environment for them – largely, of course, at the expense of the American people.

Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.

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