Born In The U.S., Raised In China: ‘Satellite Babies’ Have A Hard Time Coming Home : NPR

Another take on “anchor babies” from the perspective of the children and their families:

“Anytime you eat at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, it’s likely that somebody in that restaurant has a child who is in China at the moment,” says Cindy Liu, a psychologist at Harvard University. She points out that no one knows exactly how many Chinese immigrant families send their babies to be raised by family in China.

That’s partly why she helped start a research project focusing on Chinese immigrants in the Boston area who are raising what some psychologists call “satellite babies.” Like satellites in space, these children leave from and return to the same spot.

You can find similar arrangements among immigrant communities from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, researchers say. The satellite babies of Chinese immigrants usually come back to the U.S. in time for school.

When Satellite Babies Go To School

For their study, Liu and her colleagues interviewed adults who were once satellite babies to try to track the long-term impacts of the experience. Researchers say there are benefits from spending your early years in another country, away from your birth parents. Many satellite babies are exposed to their immigrant parents’ mother tongues and often develop strong ties with their grandparents and other extended relatives.

While Liu says that separation between satellite babies and their biological parents does not necessarily harm their relationship, some teachers and principals in New York City, where researchers also see this phenomenon, say these children can sometimes show subtle signs of trauma.

“They’re always looking around to see who’s there with them,” says Principal Elizabeth Culkin of P.S. 176 in Brooklyn. “And they always need that sense of knowing where they are and who’s there to protect them.”

Five-year-old Vivien Huang reads a book in her kindergarten classroom. After being raised in China, her teacher says she’s eagerly learning English from picture books.

Jennifer Hsu/WNYC

Members of Culkin’s staff say sometimes these children may act out by pushing or shoving other students to get attention. There are, of course, language difficulties, and some children show signs of attachment disorders.

Source: Born In The U.S., Raised In China: ‘Satellite Babies’ Have A Hard Time Coming Home : NPR Ed : NPR

Number of babies born in U.S. to unauthorized immigrants declines | Pew Research Center

This is the most authoritative data I have seen on anchor babies (distinct from birth tourism as anchor babies generally refer to children of long-term residents rather than short-term visitors).

The numbers are significant, reflecting the large number of unauthorized immigrants in the US (and comparative lack of pathways to citizenship), and explain in part political discourse around immigration:

About 295,000 babies were born to unauthorized-immigrant parents in 2013, making up 8% of the 3.9 million U.S. births that year, according to a new, preliminary Pew Research Center estimate based on the latest available federal government data. This was a decline from a peak of 370,000 in 2007.

Annual U.S. Births to Unauthorized Immigrants, 1980-2013Births to unauthorized-immigrant parents rose sharply from 1980 to the mid-2000s, but dipped since then, echoing overall population trends for unauthorized immigrants. In 2007, an estimated 9% of all U.S. babies were born to unauthorized-immigrant parents, meaning that at least one parent was an unauthorized immigrant.

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1868, grants an automatic right of citizenship to anyone born in the United States. But in recent years, some politicians have called for repeal of birthright citizenship, including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who says that so-called anchor babies are a magnet for illegal immigration.

A Pew Research survey in February 2011 found that a majority of Americans (57%) opposed changing the Constitution to end birthright citizenship, while 39% favored such a change. That same survey found that most Americans (87%) said they were aware of the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship.

Number and Share of U.S. Births to Unauthorized Immigrants, 1980-2013There were an estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in March 2013, according to a preliminary Pew Research estimate. They make up 4% of the population, but their share of births is higher because the immigrants include a higher share of women in their childbearing years and have higher birthrates than the U.S. population overall.

These estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and American Community Survey, using the widely accepted “residual methodology” employed by Pew Research for many years.

Most children of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. are born here, and therefore are citizens. In 2012, there were 4.5 million U.S.-born children younger than 18 living with unauthorized-immigrant parents. There also were 775,000 children younger than 18 who were unauthorized immigrants themselves and lived with unauthorized-immigrant parents. These totals do not count U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants who do not live with their parents.

The nation’s unauthorized immigrants are more likely than in the past to be long-term residents of the U.S., and are increasingly likely to live with U.S.-born children. In 2012, there were 4 million unauthorized-immigrant adults who lived with their U.S.-born children, both minor and adult. They made up 38% of unauthorized immigrant adults. By comparison, in 2000, 2.1 million unauthorized-immigrant adults, or 30% of this group, lived with their U.S.-born children, minor and adult.

These new estimates, which include a 2008 estimate of 355,000 births to unauthorized-immigrant parents, differ slightly from a previous estimate for 2008 of 340,000 births to unauthorized parents, because they use different data sources and methodology.

Source: Number of babies born in U.S. to unauthorized immigrants declines | Pew Research Center

Why Dropping ‘Anchor Baby’ Is a Problem for US Politicians | TIME

Good article on the history of the term “anchor babies” in the US, and how it has evolved into an offensive term (in Canada, the term generally used is birth tourism, where the numbers are tiny):

This about-face stirred debates about who should decide what’s offensive and who shouldn’t. Was an American institution kowtowing to liberals? Or was a dictionary being descriptive about how a word is truly perceived among English-speakers? When Oxford Dictionaries quietly added their definition after that controversy settled, they tagged it with a bright orange offensive label. Those signs are, Oxford editor Katherine Martin says, not chosen by lexicographers making emotional decrees but affixed as guidance for people who want to use the language intelligently.

Often when language gets accused of being offensive, public figures and media shift to more neutral ground, which can lead to some exhausting phrasing. (When the AP banned their journalists from using undocumented immigrant and illegal immigrant, for instance, standards editor Tom Kent suggested to TIME that a more precise description might be “foreigners in the United States in violation of the law.”)

Martin says one problem with anchor baby is that there is no natural alternative, overwrought or otherwise—and not for the neutral reason suggested by Bush, whether or not he meant to insult anyone. “There is no neutral term for this because it is a term that is intended to be derogatory,” she says.

One indication of that intention, as the Washington Post‘s Amber Phillips points out, is that the idea it describes doesn’t entirely make sense in practice. As TIME explained in 2011, “the law says the parents of such a child must wait till she is 21 for her to be allowed to sponsor them to live and work legally in the U.S., and research shows that the vast majority of children of illegal immigrants are born years after the mother and father have arrived in the U.S.”

Regardless, the phrase has stuck. And, while debate over its use can actually lead to discussion of important issues like candidates’ positions on birthright citizenship (Bush is for it; Donald Trump, who also uses the term, is against it), that stickiness is just one more reason for conscientious politicians to steer clear of it, says linguist Zimmer. “The difficulty is that those pithy words and phrases are much more memorable and work their way into the public consciousness,” he says. “And once they’re there, they are difficult to dislodge.”

Source: Why Dropping ‘Anchor Baby’ Is a Problem for Politicians | TIME

Inside the shadowy world of birth tourism at US ‘maternity hotels’

More on birth tourism, US perspective. Still relatively light on the numbers (Canadian numbers are very small – see earlier post What happened to Kenney’s cracking down on birth tourism? Feds couldn’t do it alone |

Birth tourism companies have flourished in recent years, according to federal officials — and many of them prefer hard-to-track cash to fuel their operations.

That money, federal officials allege, is being pocketed by a group of individuals who have skirted tax law, flouted immigration laws and helped their clients defraud U.S. hospitals of tens of thousands of dollars for each baby born.

On Tuesday, federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the IRS, along with the Los Angeles Police Department, conducted a massive operation to raid more than 30 California locations operated by “birth tourism businesses.” Officials collected piles of evidence that will likely be used against some of the “maternity hotel” operators in future prosecutions.

The companies advertise their services online — and no foreign language skills are necessary to guess the subtext.

…According to court documents, birth tourists were told to avoid traveling directly to Los Angeles International Airport from overseas, to avoid raising suspicion. They might even consider studying U.S. culture and booking recreational visits in order to make their travel seem more legitimate, the company advised. Alternate arrival ports such as Hawaii or Las Vegas were preferable.

You Win paid more than $60,000 a year to rent Southern California apartments that housed the women, according to court documents. Federal officials believe that StarBabyCare operated a “maternity hotel” from at least 10 units at one complex.

via Inside the shadowy world of birth tourism at ‘maternity hotels’ – The Washington Post.

US Congresswoman-Elect Mia Love: Personification of GOP Hypocrisy on Immigration

Sigh …

On November 4, 2014, the Republican Party made black history. Mia Love is the first Republican black woman elected to Congress. Black women aren’t exactly clamoring to join the Republican Party, so it’s obvious why this is an impressive feat. Love also became another “first” that night—the first Haitian-American elected to Congress.

But, as a woman born to immigrants, a group Republicans have been hostile towards for decades, Mia Love’s membership in the Grand Old Party is downright hypocritical.  Her parents, Marie and Jean Maxime Bourdeau, fled Haiti in the 1970s after Jean Maxime had been threatened by the Tonton Macoutes, the brutal police force of Francois Duvalier, the late dictator. According to Mother Jones, the immigration law in place at the time offered the possibility of her parents gaining citizenship if they had a child born in the United States. The law was set to expire in January 1976. On December 6, 1975, Love was born in a Brooklyn hospital.

“My parents have always told me I was a miracle and our family’s ticket to America,” Love told the Deseret News in a 2011 interview.

Congresswoman-Elect Mia Love: Personification of GOP Hypocrisy on Immigration.

Ottawa urged to remove citizenship by birth on Canadian soil | Toronto Star

Nicholas Keung’s story on the recently released under ATIP birth tourism briefing material (Citizenship Reform Proposal #19: Birth on Soil link to document), including my quote:

The proposal, marked “secret” and with inputs from various federal departments, found fewer than 500 cases of children being born to foreign nationals in Canada each year, amounting to just 0.14 per cent of the 360,000 total births per year in the country.

The issue of citizenship by birth on Canadian soil once again raises concerns among critics over the current government’s policy considerations being based on ideologies rather than evidence and objective cost-benefit analyses.

“An impartial observer would conclude that the evidence supports no need for change, given the small number of cases. Yet the recommendation supports the government’s public rhetoric and anecdotes on the need for change,” said Andrew Griffith, a former director general for citizenship and multiculturalism at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and author of Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias.

The Conservative government overhauled the Canadian Citizenship Act earlier this year by further restricting eligibility. However, the “birth on soil” provision was left intact and required further studies.

“Eliminating birth on soil in order to ensure that everyone who obtains citizenship at birth has a strong connection to Canada would have significant cost implications,” said the 17-page report prepared for former immigration minister Jason Kenney, obtained under an access to information request.

“The challenge of communicating this change would be convincing the public that restricting the acquisition of Canadian citizenship is worth that cost, particularly in a climate of deficit reduction.”

The office of Chris Alexander, Kenney’s successor, confirmed with the Star that the government is still reviewing citizenship policy with regard to the issue of “birth tourism” — a term referring to foreigners travelling to give birth in Canada so the baby can claim automatic citizenship here.

Dubbed “anchor babies,” these children are eligible to sponsor their foreign parents to Canada once they turn 18. It is unknown how many of them actually return to their birth country with their parents, but it’s believed the number is low.

“As provinces and territories are responsible for birth registration, consultation and co-ordination with the provinces is required,” said Alexis Pavlich, a spokesperson for Alexander.

“Canadian citizenship is an honour and a privilege, and our Conservative government is committed to increasing its value. Birth tourism undermines the integrity of our citizenship program and takes advantage of Canadian generosity.”

I have some outstanding ATIP requests to the key provinces (QC, ON, BC) on their data on “anchor babies” and will share when released.

And if you have a different take than me on Citizenship Reform Proposal #19: Birth on Soil, please share.

Ottawa urged to remove citizenship by birth on Canadian soil | Toronto Star.

Birth Tourism: Chinese Flock to the U.S. to Have Babies

What is striking is that the numbers are relatively small in the US as in Canada. 10,000 may sound like a lot but in context of the number of illegal residents (in the millions) or overall US population, this is minimal.

One could also view this as another immigration channel targeting high-powered and high net worth immigrants, given the amount of money this costs. 🙂

Birth Tourism: Chinese Flock to the U.S. to Have Babies |