If a child is born on U.S. soil, that child is automatically a United States citizen. That fact has created a widespread myth that undocumented immigrant mothers (and fathers) will do anything to make sure that their child is born inside U.S. borders so that they have an “anchor baby.”
The idea is that having a child who is a U.S. citizen automatically protects the child’s parents from deportation, regardless of their immigration status. That’s far from the truth.
Anchor babies may be citizens, but their parents can still be deported
It’s actually very difficult for undocumented immigrant parents of a U.S.-born child to obtain legal safeguards against deportation or improve their immigration status. Consider these facts:
- The U.S.-born children of immigrants cannot sponsor their parents for a green card until they are at least 21 years of age or older.
- The U.S.-born children must be able to prove that they can financially support their parents once they are granted admission to the U.S. so that they don’t become a burden on the public.
- The parents may have to leave the U.S. for up to 10 years before they will be allowed to return through a legal process.
- If eventually granted a green card, the parents must wait for five years before they can apply for naturalization.
What this means is that neither the parents of these so-called “anchor babies” nor the children – who are U.S. citizens by birthright – have any security. They all must live in fear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will sweep in someday and tear apart their families.
Don’t let misunderstanding about immigration law guide your actions. Speak to someone with experience and learn what you can do to overcome your immigration hurdles.