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Immigration Attorney Fact Check: "Anchor Babies" - Are people crossing the border in droves just to give birth in the U.S.?

Fact Check - Immigration Edition

What are "anchor babies?" "Anchor Babies" is s term used to describe the situation where a pregnant woman crosses the U.S. border illegally in order to give birth here on the hopes of then being able to obtain lawful status in the United States. It is a derogatory term that is used to tear at the foundation of the 14th amendment which allows U.S. Citizenship, known as a "birth-right," for any person born within the borders of the U.S.. Many anti-immigration advocates, most notably of late, Mr. Trump, point to the influx of Anchor Babies in the U.S. as evidence that the 14th amendment promotes and encourages illegal immigration.

As an immigration attorney, I have certainly come into contact with individuals illegally present in the U.S. who are under the mistaken belief that his or her U.S. Citizen newborn will put him or her on a fast-track to guaranteed U.S. citizenship. I know it is going to be a rough day when I have to look a parent in his or her eyes and explain that it is not quite that simple.

There are a few important things to understand about this issue. First, regardless of whether or not you enter the U.S. legally, your U.S. Citizen child will not be able to file for you until he or she turns 21 years old. This is true even if you have never been inside the United States.

Next, if you entered the country illegally you will most likely need to leave the country to file for your Green Card and you will definitely need a Waiver of Inadmissibility. Waivers of Inadmissibility are complex and are difficult to get approved. There are different types of waivers depending on the grounds of inadmissibility. The two types of waivers that are most common are for people who entered the U.S. without inspection (EWI) and people who entered the U.S. by fraud or misrepresentation (usually by using someone else's travel document). Both of these waivers require that you prove that a qualifying relative will suffer an extreme hardship in the event that you are forced to leave the United States. These waivers carry a high burden of proof that in many cases can be hard to meet. Also, depending on which waiver you are eligible for, you may first have to leave the country to apply for it and then can wait upwards of a year to find out if the waiver is approved. If it is not, you can try again but you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. and will face additional bars of inadmissibility.

To sum up, here is what the approximate timeline a pregnant lady is looking at if she aims to cross the border to give birth to a U.S. Citizen in hopes of remaining in this country and getting a Green Card:

1. Child is born in the United States- wait 21 years;

2. U.S. Citizen child files an alien relative petition for her - add another 3-4 months;

3. Once Petition is approved, if she is EWI, she will file a Waiver of Inadmissibility and wait another 6 months- 1 year;

4. If the waiver is approved, she will then start consular processing where she will need an affidavit of support and then file an immigrant visa application and submit all required documents - add another 2-3 months to submit the documents and allow the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad to review everything for completeness;

5. Receive interview date abroad, book ticket and depart the U.S. - add another month;

6. Attend the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, wait for approval of immigrant visa - add 1 - 3 weeks, and;

7. Re-enter the United States a Lawful Permanent Resident- will receive Green Card with 45 days of entry.

Add that all up and someone looking to obtain Permanent Residency this way will end up waiting over 23 years (and that is if there are no delays!) before they have a Green Card. This is also assuming that the individual has no criminal history or any other bars of inadmissibility to deal with.

Now that you know the process a little better and see how tedious and drawn-out obtaining a Green Card through an "anchor baby" actually is, it makes sense then that the number of babies that are being born to illegal immigrants in this country has been on a steady decline since 2007.

Which brings me to the last fact check regarding the number of babies born to illegal immigrants over the past decade that can be seen in this chart (courtesy of the Pew Research Center):

Annual U.S. Births to Unauthorized Immigrants, 1980-2013

As the chart shows, the number continued to increase until 2007 and has been on the decline ever since. For more facts and figures relating to this matter, click on this link to read The Washington Post's article entitled, "Undocumented immigrants are having fewer babies in the United States."

If you need help with your immigration case, contact the experienced attorneys at The Shapiro Law Firm, LLC, today to find out how we can help.