“Peter and Ellie Yang,” the subjects of Benjamin Carlson’s fascinating new Rolling Stone essay, “Welcome to Maternity Hotel California,” paid $35,000 to have their second child in the United States. In 2012 Chinese state media reported 10,000 “tourist births” by Chinese couples in the United States; other estimates skew as high as 60,000.
Following Donald Trump’s call for an end to birthright citizenship, and renewed attention on “anchor babies,” Carlson’s exposé on “birth tourism” seems to confirm that the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment works as a magnet for at least some parents across the globe. But just how big a magnet is it?
According to Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) legal policy analyst Jon Feere, ... between 350,000 and 400,000 children are born annually to an illegal-alien mother residing in the United States — as many as one in ten births nationwide.
As of 2010, four out of five children of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. were born here — some four million kids. ... The Pew Research Center noted that, while illegal immigrants make up about 4 percent of the adult population, “because they have high birthrates, their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population (8 percent) and the child population (7 percent) ....”
The cost of this is not negligible. Inflation-adjusted figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that a child born in 2013 would cost his parents $304,480 from birth to his eighteenth birthday. Given that illegal-alien households are normally low-income households (three out of five illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children live at or near the poverty line), one would expect that a significant portion of that cost will fall on the government.
And that’s exactly what‘s happening. According to CIS, 71 percent of illegal-alien headed households with children received some sort of welfare in 2009, compared with 39 percent of native-headed houses with children.
Illegal immigrants generally access welfare programs through their U.S.-born children, to whom government assistance is guaranteed. Additionally, U.S.-born children of illegal aliens are entitled to American public schools, health care, and more, even though illegal-alien households rarely pay taxes.
RELATED: Trump’s Critics Are Wrong about the 14th Amendment and Birthright Citizenship
The short-term cost of “anchor babies” was revealed a decade ago in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. “‘Anchor babies’ born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income,” wrote medical attorney Madeleine Pelner Cosman. She noted the increasingly costly situation in California:
In 2003 in Stockton, California, 70 percent of the 2,300 babies born in San Joaquin General Hospital’s maternity ward were anchor babies, and 45 percent of Stockton children under age six are Latino (up from 30 percent in 1993).
In 1994, 74,987 anchor babies in California hospital maternity units cost $215 million and constituted 36 percent of all Medi-Cal ... births. Now  they account for substantially more than half.
While perhaps humane, measures such as the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires hospital emergency departments to treat all patients with an “emergency” (an infinitely malleable term), regardless of documentation or ability to pay, have facilitated the abuse of American health care by illegal aliens, according to Cosman.
RELATED: What Conservatives Get Wrong about Birthright Citizenship and the Constitution
There are long-term costs, too. U.S.-born children of illegal aliens can sponsor the immigration of family members once they come of age. At 18, an “anchor baby” can sponsor an overseas spouse and unmarried children of his own; at 21, he can sponsor parents and siblings.
There may be a long waiting period before that legal benefit is of use. But it’s a fact that illegal aliens with American-born children are much less likely to be deported, and that policy has been effectively enshrined in law with President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) policy, which would effectively grant amnesty to some 5 million illegal aliens, on top of the 2 to 3 million granted amnesty under his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
(DAPA is currently under scrutiny in the courts.) GET FREE EXCLUSIVE NR CONTENT
It is difficult to contend that the promise of birthright citizenship is not serving as a magnet. Carlson’s Rolling Stone essay is not about “anchor babies,” as the term is commonly applied (to children of illegal aliens), but about “birth tourists” — persons from overseas, typically of some means, who acquire temporary visas in order to give birth in the United States. Yet if middle-class Chinese (and Russian and Turkish and Nigerian) couples are incentivized by the 14th Amendment to travel to the U.S. to give birth, shouldn’t it be an even bigger draw for expecting mothers from Latin America, who typically live in much more difficult circumstances?
Note, as an indicator of the power of immigration incentives, the massive influx of unaccompanied minors that converged on the U.S.–Mexico border last summer when news of DACA spread through Central America.
Ending birth tourism is difficult. The tools available to Customs and Border Patrol — for example, spotting and enforcing visa fraud — are ineffective, and the penalty for at least some visa-related offenses is a prohibition on visits after the current visit.
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But “anchor babies” are a largely preventable phenomenon, mainly by the simple enforcement of current immigration laws. Stopping illegal immigration at the border, and instituting an actually effective visa-tracking system to crack down on overstays, would do much to discourage efforts to take advantage of American largesse.
With The Donald’s prompting, birthright citizenship has become the focus of the current news cycle — despite ... current political realities, the composition of the Supreme Court, and the history of 14th Amendment jurisprudence, ending the practice is a fanciful aim.
But that is all right. “Anchor babies” are a small, though not negligible, component of our ongoing illegal-immigration crisis. Prioritizing border and visa enforcement to help end our much larger problems would do much to resolve this one, too.
Some Pictures are Worth MORE than a Thousand Words
Psssssssst! This is HUMOR, folks.
Please spare us the BROADSIDES,
the BROMIDES and the BOILERPLATE.
The Definition of a Lady
She doesn't shout. She doesn't pout. She dares to dream, but doesn't scheme. She doesn't lie. She doesn't cry. She doesn't whine. She doesn't pine.
She doesn't simper. She doesn't whimper.
She doesn't accuse. She doesn't excuse.
She doesn't seem to have an axe to grind.
In short she's really a great find.
How could we all not love her
Donald Trump has now said that he would reverse President Obama's executive amnesty for "DREAMers" - illegal immigrants who've been here since they were children - and deport every last member of the Undocumented-American community. The amnesty for the kids was supposed to prefigure an amnesty for their parents - for what mean old politician would advocate breaking up families? But, as he told NBC's Chuck Todd, Trump plans to keep the families together by deporting every single one of them:
"We're going to keep the families together, but they have to go," he said in the interview, which will air in full on NBC's "Meet the Press" this Sunday.
Pressed on what he'd do if the immigrants in question had nowhere to return to, Trump reiterated: "They have to go."
"We will work with them. They have to go. Chuck, we either have a country, or we don't have a country."
1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.
In other words, as every functioning society understood until two generations ago, immigration has to benefit the people who are already here. Government owes a duty to its own citizens before those of the rest of the planet - no matter how cuddly and loveable they might be. The fact that it is necessary to state the obvious and that no "viable" "mainstream" candidate from either party is willing to state it is testament to how deformed contemporary western politics is. Trump may not be a "real" Republican or a "real" conservative, but most of his rivals are not "real" - period, as Carly Fiorina would say.
There seems to be some dispute among the consultant-industrial complex as to whether Trump's rise comes from his seizing the immigration issue or because folks are just enjoying the show - like "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston:
"I actually like his candor," Cranston said. "There's something so refreshing about shaking up that world that is all about being handled and here comes this loose cannon who has terrible ideas and would be a horrible president, but there's something great about his 'I-don't-give-a-shit' attitude that really kind of keeps others honest."
On the other hand, when it's a subject that both parties are evasive and dishonest about, maybe the issue and the I-don't-give-a-sh*t candor are perfectly aligned.
The retort that Trump is not a "real" Republican or a "real" conservative would of course be a devastating criticism had "real" Republicans and "real" conservatives" in Washington managed actually to "conserve" anything during their time in office. Fiscal prudence? Constrained welfare? Private health care? Religious liberty? There's no point to a purity test for a party that folds more reliably than the White House valet. As I've said, for the Republican establishment the issue is Trump; for a large part of the base the issue is the Republican establishment.
And among the broader citizenry, where elections are decided, the GOP's complaint is entirely irrelevant. It's not often that I find the pajama boys of Vox.com worth reading, but this Ezra Klein column makes an interesting point:
It's not that Trump is a moderate Republican. It's that he's a moderate, full stop. And he's the kind of moderate that really exists, not the kind of moderate Washington likes to pretend exists.
What, after all, is a "moderate"?
The way it works, explains David Broockman, a political scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, is that a pollster will ask people for their position on a wide range of issues: marijuana legalization, the war in Iraq, universal health care, gay marriage, taxes, climate change, and so on. The answers will then be coded as to whether they're left or right. People who have a mix of answers on the left and the right average out to the middle — and so they're labeled as moderate.
But when you drill down into those individual answers you find a lot of opinions that are far from the political center. "A lot of people say we should have a universal health-care system run by the state like the British," Broockman told me in July 2014. "A lot of people say we should deport all undocumented immigrants immediately with no due process."
Because the first position is "left" and the second position is "right", the pollsters split the difference and label such a person a "moderate". But he isn't actually a moderate, so much as bipartisanly extreme. In practice, most "moderates" boil down to that: They hold some leftie and some rightie positions. The most familiar type of "moderate" in American politics are the so-called "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" red governors of blue states - Christie Whitman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Pataki and (in his Massachusetts incarnation) Mitt Romney. In practice, they usually turn out to be not all that "fiscally conservative" because it turns out the social liberalism comes with quite a price tag.
Suppose there were a countervailing force to the fiscally conservative, socially liberal type? Fiscally liberal, socially (or at any rate culturally) conservative. Recent elections in Europe suggest there's no shortage of voters who like their welfare checks, free health care, state pension plans ...but don't see what any of that has to do with letting the country fill up with fanatical Muslims hot for sharia and female genital mutilation. Once upon a time the old left-wing parties represented that interest, but the British Labour Party and most European social democratic parties abandoned that market when they got hot for multiculturalism and diversity.
Is there a similar constituency in America? In other words, people who like their Medicare and food stamps ...but, like Trump, think there are too many unskilled Mexican peasants flooding into a country with ever diminishing social mobility and no hope of economic improvement without a credential that requires taking on a quarter-million dollars in debt. As Trump's detractors see it, he's just a reality-show buffoon with a portfolio of incoherent attitudes that display no coherent worldview. But very few people go around with a philosophically consistent attitude to life: Your approach to, say, health insurance is determined less by abstract principles than by whether you can afford it. Likewise, your attitude to the DREAMers may owe more to whether your local school district is collapsing under the weight of all this heartwarming diversity.
Presumably, if you're one of these bipartisanly extreme moderates, which of your incoherent positions is more pressing on election day determines your vote. The question then is whether large numbers of the electorate are as concerned about immigration as Trump purports to be. Via Mickey Kaus, for example, I found this nugget in a new paper by that David Broockman fellow quoted up above:
On immigration and abortion citizens tend to think the entire range of elite policy debate is too far to the left.
But on abortion one of the two parties at least talks the talk, even if it does nothing. On immigration both parties are engaged in a conspiracy against the American people. One party gets cheap voters and Big Government dependents; the other gets cheap labor and a chocolate on its turned down coverlet in the junior suite. The Democrats made a smarter deal. The Republicans signed a demographic death warrant. Yet Jeb! and the other alleged non-buffoons in the race have to be dragged kicking and screaming to get beyond the most ludicrous sentimentalist pap on the subject. If a "real" Republican is someone who toes the party line on a suicide mission, why be surprised that voters seek reality elsewhere?
The experts are still assuring us that the next Trumpian infelicity - after Mexicans, McCain and Megyn - will be the one that causes his campaign to self-destruct. You could be waiting a long time. As Ann Coulter says, the quickest way to get rid of Trump is to steal his issue and run with it.