Why Illegal Immigrant Anchor Babies Don't Actually Work

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Dulce Guerrero is among 400,000 unauthorised immigrant children who have U.S. born siblings. “All my family is undocumented, except for my younger brother who is 13. He was born here. He is a U.S. citizen,” says Guerrero.

Some might refer to her brother as an “anchor baby,” a child that anchors family in the U.S. and provides them with a way to obtain benefits. This notorious scheme, however, doesn’t work as many think.

“He is only thirteen, he cannot sponsor us till he is 21. So we have a couple of years to go if he wants to do that,” says Guerrero, pointing out that the legalization process after he decides to sponsor her parents might take years from the point he turns 21 and the process is initiated.

“It’s not a simple process. For him to sponsor siblings is an even longer process,” she adds.

“We are not really counting on him to sponsor us,” Dulce says of her family mindset. Not only is this process fairly long, but if the family members entered the U.S. illegally, they will have to return to their native country for 10 years before they can return and be legalized. 

Politifact agreed that “having a baby to secure citizenship for its parents is an extremely long-term, and uncertain, process.” Yet, undeniably there are some minor benefits such as having access to food and nutrition vouchers through Women-Infants-Children program, and potential relief from deportation. 

Guerrero’s family’s situation is not unique with about 9 million people coming from mixed-status families with at least one unauthorised adult and at least one U.S. born child.

According the Pew Hispanic centre, “about 5 million unauthorised adult immigrants are in families with minor children. Along with approximately 1 million unauthorised immigrants who are children, an additional 4.5. million people younger than 18 were born in the U.S. to at least one unauthorised immigrant parent.”

The report went on to add that the number of U.S.-born children with at least one unauthorised immigrant parent has more doubled since 2000. This can be attributed to the fact that 85 per cent of unauthorised immigrants has been living in the U,S. for over five years. For them, starting families or continuing to have children might just be a part of life.

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