Are You An Anchor Baby Too?

Feb 14 2012 @ 7:57am

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William Finnegan explains how self-deportation both is and isn't a joke:

A new group, Patriots for Self-Deportation, recently launched a Web site urging Americans to investigate their family trees for illegal immigrants and "anchor babies" and then, if they find anything suspicious, to do the right thing and self-deport. The site is now filling up with anguished testimonials from conscience-stricken young white people heading off to Italy and Poland to atone for their ancestors’ misdeeds. …

Meanwhile, irony-free anti-immigrant groups are also laying claim to the phrase, defining it as a synonym for "attrition through enforcement," which is the strategy behind harsh new laws in Alabama and, yes, Arizona.

The aim of those laws is to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they will pull up stakes and leave. And that is precisely what Romney meant. His chief adviser on immigration issues, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was the draft author of both the Arizona and the Alabama laws.

A recent episode of "This American Life" explored how the Alabama law has impacted the state. Reporter Jack Hitt interviewed Carolina, who overstayed her visa from Costa Rica:

Jack Hitt: Carolina had just had a birthday when we met. And her mother back home had wired her some money to buy a gift, a money gram she could pick up at Walmart, not a government office, but a private business. So no problem. She'd done this many, many times in the nearly seven years she's lived in Alabama. Before the law, all she had to do was show ID and type in the secret PIN number her mother had sent her. But this time…

Carolina: They did not give me the money. They just refused to give me the money, because I cannot prove to the girl that I was legal. And I don't know why I have to prove her that.

Jack Hitt: Again, this is not part of the law.