"Anchor babies" is becoming well-known term in the nation's debate over immigration and may become its next focal point.
According to Time magazine, the term is being used to describe children born in the United States to illegal immigrants. The thought is that they help "anchor" these families into the country.
Legislation is being considered both in some states and at the national level that would deny birth certificates to these children, reversing a birthright currently guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment.
Many on both sides agree the debate will likely find its way to the Supreme Court.
The 14th Amendment states that "All persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."
According to the Library of Congress web guides, the 14th Amendment was ratified on July 9, 1968. "All persons born or naturalized in the United States" included freed slaves and their children.
Time states that Pearce believes the amendment was "hijacked" by illegal immigrants who "use it as a wedge" to "gain access to the great welfare state we've created."
NPR reported that similar legislation has been introduced in Congress and in two other states, Oklahoma and Texas.
The federal bill has 91 co-sponsors. ABC News stated that the "Birthright Citizenship Bill" would only grant citizenship "if the person is born in the United States of parents, one of whom is:
– a citizen or national of the United States;
– an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States whose residence is in the United States;
– or an alien performing active service in the armed forces."