Do we have to refer to babies using words that sound like a gong or clashing cymbal?

The challenge of illegal immigration is a complex and difficult issue threatening to tear the fabric of our nation apart. Solving this problem requires thoughtful and respectful discussion of the issue on all sides, especially from our elected leaders. Offensive and mean-spirited comments, terms and legislation only make a solution harder and longer to accomplish. A few days ago, I saw a thread on Madville Times in which State Representative Manny Steele (Republican) referred to babies born to non-US citizens or non-permanent residents as ?anchor babies.? In reaction, an Iowa-based Hispanic Republican group called the term offensive and asked for Steele?s resignation.

Without counting to 10, I responded in support of calling for his resignation and pledged to write a post here on the War College. After counting to 10, I thought maybe Steele was taken out of context or after he was informed of the offensive connotations would no longer use the term (plus I had more pressing personal and business matters) so I delayed posting. Then, I read in today?s Argus Leader than Steele not only didn?t apologize but reaffirmed the statement as ?accurate and not offensive.?

Today, I?ve counted to 1,000 before writing this. Manny Steele is my State Representative and I have voted for him. In good conscience, I just can?t sit by and not respond to this offensive description of innocent newborn babies by one who has gotten my vote. If I won’t admonish my own Representative, how can I admonish another’s?

While I don?t want this thread to be about the merits of HB1199 (a bill to define which babies born in the US qualify for citizenship) or its practicality (i.e. how are we going to confirm one of the parents are actually US citizens? Besides looking at their citizenship papers, do we have to do DNA testing to insure the father on the birth certificate is really the father?), I would like to give a bit of background.

Nearly all Americans acknowledge we have a problem with illegal immigration and want a solution. After securing the border, there are multiple comprehensive federal solutions proposed by varying groups and political philosophies for which consensus has not been reached. In frustration because of this lack of consensus/action plus the failure of the federal government to adequately enforce current federal law, states have begun to embark on efforts to counter-act the failure of the federal government, Congress, and White House to deal with the problem.

One of these state-initiated efforts is to define natural born citizenship more narrowly. In particular, because the federal government and public policy has been reluctant to deport families which include a natural-born US citizen (i.e. a baby born to parents in the US illegally), states have begun to propose laws which would deny citizenship to babies born to parents in the non-US citizens not here as permanent aliens.

Again, I don?t want this thread to be about the merits of the legislation, whether individual State?s or even Congress have the authority to make such a determination, the burden these illegals and their children may be on the taxpayer and society, or whether the Constitution automatically grants citizenship to anyone born in the US regardless of the status of the parents making these State efforts futilely unconstitutional.

This thread is about whether it is appropriate to refer to such babies as ?anchor babies? and whether the unapologetic use of the term warrants censure or even a demand for Manny Steele?s resignation.

In the best light, the term ?anchor babies? is used to describe a baby born to non-US citizens combined with the assertion this baby effectively prevents the deportation of illegal immigrants and gives the entire family an ?anchor? to live in the US in contradiction to deportation laws. In the worst light, the term ?anchor babies? asserts that the parents? intent to have the child was to create this anchor. Steele seems to hold to a middle ground as he claims the parents come to US to have their baby here so they will be US citizens.

Several months ago, there was a debate on the War College about a state representative in Tennessee who used this term among others which so offended me, I ended up sending a donation to local church to support pre-natal medical services to such babies and wrote a Letter to the Editor in opposition to the legislation as I found it essentially mean-spirited and overtly racist.

But, I digress. Let me get back to the essence of the term ?anchor babies? in context of this discussion. I acknowledge the immigration problem is complex and a multitude of proposals should be discussed and many of them will impact children. And, some of the solutions will require hard choices which tug at our heart strings. In and of themselves, we need to be careful not to mischaracterize the intent nor the interior heart of the proponents. At the same time, it is wholly appropriate to expect the terms used by our elected leaders to acknowledge the God-given dignity of the people involved, especially those who have done nothing other than being born.

Granted, we could all agree the the term is not meant in the context of the ?worst light? (the parents? intent to have the child is to provide an anchor to live in the United States) but agree the context is in the ?best light? (effective thwarting of our deportation laws) because it is ?accurate.? Even so, “anchor” is not meant like how my wife or faith is my anchor. But, how my sin is an anchor on my soul or my chubbiness is an anchor on my mobility/health. Just as I want to cut off my sin or weight, this bill openly intends to cut off citizenship to these particular babies from the land of their birth, a substantive representation of one?s inalienable dignity as a person.

We could also agree to use the term ?wetback? to describe illegal immigrants who entered the nation by swimming across a river or ?coon? to describe black people being tracked by the law. Such an agreement would also make it appropriate to call the descendents of ?wetbacks and coons? as ?wetback or coon babies.? Since it is ok to use ?accurate? terms to describe these descendents, why don?t we go a step further and call children of convicts ?convict babies? and children of alcoholics ?alcoholic babies? for though no fault of the children of convicts and alcoholics? It too is accurate.

When using ?anchor babies,? we can further agree to ignore there are millions of our current citizens who were born to illegal immigrants or are their descendents without regard to whether it offends them.

While most of us agree, the term ?wetback? and ?coon? are offensive regardless of their ?accuracy? and shouldn?t be used, I find ?anchor baby? at least as offensive as these terms. A ?wetback? came across the border knowing it was illegal just as a fugitive slave knew they were the ?property? of the slaveholder. Just remember in this case we are talking about babies who have done nothing more than being born (which is a God-given right).

Yes, parental obligations (and even parental privileges) sometimes feel like anchors, especially as our children age and create burdens and problems in our life. I don?t care if the child is wanted, unwanted, healthy or unhealthy, a baby is always a gift to be cherished and loved regardless if the parents are unfit and unable to love their child, don?t want the child, or are ?wetbacks.? In my mind, the only context for ?accurate and not offensive? use of ?anchor baby? is when a parent says the baby anchors them to their spouse and home as it speaks to the baby?s dignity and value. Anything else is not only wholly inappropriate but offensive.

If Manny Steele fails to recognize how offensive this term is regardless of how ?accurate? he might find it, my final comment is our party needs to express its outrage. Appropriately, the US House Republican leadership pushed a Congressmen out of office for wholly inappropriate private behavior. Manny Steele?s words and insistence it is ?accurate and not offensive? is public behavior. The South Dakota Republican House Caucus has a huge majority. While some might claim this large majority doesn?t demand strict accountability, I disagree. I don?t care the Democrats in the Legislature failed to expel a Senator for inappropriate sexual contact with a legislative employee or a US Senator referred to Republicans as ?Taliban.? Democrats never have set my standards.

Even if Manny Steele doesn?t have the decency to acknowledge the offensiveness of this term, it might be unrealistic to for the Republican Leadership to demand him to resign his office for intransigent offensive language for being offensive is a Constitutional right, even for Legislators. But, I hope they will publicly or privately admonish him for this term. Additionally, I hope groups who might have in the past supported him, especially those concerned with the born and unborn babies, reconsider their support.

Sidenote: I?m pleased to see State Representative Steven Hickey apologized for calling business owners who operate a business he finds unacceptable as vultures. One can disagree without being derogatory and I?m impressed he acknowledged a need to be civil. State Representative Steele needs to show the same contrition and resolve to speak better, especially about beautiful babies.

P.S. I used terms I find offensive. I know just reading them causes offense for they make me recoil. I especially apologize to Blacks and Hispanics for using these derogatory slurs to make my point. I contemplated using other words, like “anchor baby,” which on the surface are not so obviously offensive but that would have required some explanation of why they are offensive. I’m confident nobody needs an explanation of the offensiveness of “wetback” and “coon.” If you find the term ?anchor baby? offensive but less offensive than the words I used, I understand. Agreeing on degree of offensiveness is not important to me as, upon reflection, I really recoil at the use of all these words but especially ?coon.?

81 Replies to “Do we have to refer to babies using words that sound like a gong or clashing cymbal?”

  1. interested party

    Great post, Troy. The Tohono O’odham straddle an international border who, up to now, were armed with nothing but treaties and the rule of law.

    Thank you for such a passionate defense of the dissolution of that border.

    (Nothing in my thread is about borders. I’m talking about babies born within the confines of the border of the United States. I’m not advocating a position on HB1199 (even though I do have a position on it). All I’m calling for is speaking about babies with a tone and words which properly befit their dignity as persons-TJ)

  2. Name

    I find this diatribe completly absurd and the notion that Rep. Steele should resign just ridiculous! Your comparisons don’t even relate as you used a race based perjoritive and anchor babies refers to any non usa citizen. Countless articles written by independent journalists have used the term im their stories with no backlash. Do you have a problem with the term illegal aliens or should we call them undocemented workers?
    Perhaps you should have counted to 1 million!

    1. Troy Jones Post author

      I am wholly comfortable with the term “illegal aliens” for it is accurate, especially legally. Personally though, I like the term “illegal immigrant” as I believe it not only accurate but more descriptive of a person who intends to live here illegally. The term “illegal alien” is a bit broader as it includes those who are here but have no intention to live here.

      I understand your reaction to the appearance of a charge of racism. Just know it wasn’t intended in any way. I tried hard to make this not about race and it appears I have failed.

      Principally, I want Steele to recant his view it is “accurate and not offensive.” It serves no purpose to use a term offensive to many, including this Caucasian parent and distracts from a productive discussion of solutions to the immigration issue. If he won’t, at minimum, I’ve said publicly he will never again get my vote.

      The term “anchor baby” is attributing a pegorative (thanks for the word, I was searching in my brain for it) on a baby that has done nothing wrong (unless being born is wrong). As a parent, a baby is a baby and it is offensive to place any pejorative to them. Representative Steele can advocate for this more narrow definition of citizenship on its merits without denigrating a baby, regardless of his belief it is accurate in these ways:

      1) Non-US citizens come here so their children can be US citizens (actually a non-sensical argument since the issue is immigration and not people coming here to establish citizenship for their children as it implies some of them then go home and take their child with them after establishing US citizenship.)
      2) Illegal immigrants have children to thwart their deportation (most offensive connotation)
      3) These babies have the effect of creating an anchor for families to the US and thus describing a new-born baby for their utility rather than their inherent dignity as a human being(least offensive connotation).

  3. Christine Chapel

    Yours is the most passionate argument for dissolution of the artificial border between Mexico and the United States ever penned by a redstater, Mr. Jones. Barry Goldwater hears you.

    The Tohono O’odham straddle two countries and, until now, were armed with only treaties and the rule of law. Since Arizona signed away rights with its Statehood Enabling Act, the tribes wield powers the state does not have, including entering treaties with their counterparts across that border.

    You can admonish your fellow redstaters all you want; how sad that they are too white to hear you.

  4. duggersd

    Troy, while I find your posts very thoughtful, I just could not agree with you less about whether this term is offensive. And yes, the worst light does happen. Just go to a border town and see how pregnant women wait until they are almost delivering and go to a US hospital to give birth. Tell me that it is not the intent of the mother to be prevented from deportation. Here is a CBS story. What is the intent of this family?
    BTW, the notion of whether a person born in the US is a citizen by virtue of birth alone under the 17th Amendment has not been tested. I would submit one could argue the baby is not subject to the jurisdiction of the US and therefore not a US citizen.

    1. Troy Jones Post author

      Call the parents whatever you choose. Assert whatever motives you want (whether it is to prevent deportation, gain citizenship for their children, or just have their child born in the best hospital they can). Just give the baby its due justice as a beautiful gift.

      Regarding whether the federal or state governments can consitutionally narrow who is eligible for “natural born citizenship,” I don’t even claim whether it is possible or not.

      Again, my post is centered on two things:

      1) I find this term in the same class as “wetback.”
      2) I would never say to a child whose mother got pregnant to get more welfare a “welfare baby” regardless of its “accuracy” and I don’t think someone who claims to defend the dignity of unborn babies being willing to so describe these children based on their utility to their parents.

      If you disagree or like “anchor baby”, go ahead and send Manny an “attaboy.”

    2. Name

      I think you mean 14th Amendment.

      I also can’t believe this term is offensive.
      I see where Troy is going with this – Oh it is just a baby and the baby didn’t do anything wrong. Well, the term isn’t meant to offend the child, so get over it.
      Also, it isn’t meant to mean the baby is somehow weighing the parents down through obligations, nor defining their faith or commitment to an ideal.
      The term is meant to describe your “worst light” scenario through a misinterpretation of the 14th amendment.

      As Dugger mentioned, the courts have bastardized the meaning of the 14th amendment to somehow mean that born here = citizenship.

      Quite the opposite is what the 14th amendment was intended to do. It was only meant to give citizenship to children born here if they were not subject to the citizenship of another nation. Unless their parents denounced citizenship in their own country before illegally crossing into ours, then the parent, and the child by extension, are still subjects of their home country and are therefore not offered any US citizenship under the 14th amendment.

      This complete misinterpretation by the courts is precisely why the States are being forced to clarify what it takes to be a “citizen”.

  5. Name

    I guess we could call them “Children born to scofflaws who in turn use said child’s birth as a means to anchor themselves to soil to which they otherwise have no other legal right.”
    I don’t think it will catch on, though.

  6. wow

    All of this discussion about name calling or ill intended meanings just goes to show that when one is looking for something, he is going to find it. It is the same for any legislator who speaks out and someone does not like the message or the intention or the misspeaking..what have you. If people are dissecting speeches into miniscule particles, they are indeed going to extract something. T

  7. Linda

    Interesting article full of obfuscation & touchy feely crap that should have no place in actually ruling on the actual law. It might behoove the author to actually study & research the history of US citizenship & know what thy speaketh of before going off on a tangent that makes one look utterly ignorant of our history & our national security. Might I suggest one start by learning the difference between the old English feudal law of monarchies & the “Law of Nature & Nature’s God” in which our country & American laws were founded upon well before the revolution. Then go back & actually read the congressional debates & the actual language of citizenship. Also, Justice Waite’s opinion in the SCOTUS case Minor v. Happersett (1874) as well as Gray’s in the Elk v Wilkins (1884) should be required reading for any blogger/journalist who feels the need to chime in on a topic they are sadly uneducated in. For more recent context you can also read the amicus brief filed by Edwin Meese, J Eastman & the Claremont Institute in the Hamdi v Rumsfeld case. [ ]. Birthright citizenship was never meant to be based mere birth location (jus soli). Jus soli goes against nature & nature’s laws as it makes a child born to a foreigner, a foreigner to the parent from birth and thus its allegiance in conflict with that of the parents.

    From Feudalism to Consent : Rethinking Birthright Citizenship Published on March 30, 2006 by John C. Eastman Legal Memorandum #18

  8. Steve Hickey

    I didn’t sign on to Rep. Steele’s immigration bill because I’m hung up on a few points. I’m pretty connected to folks far beyond US borders and am very vested in good relationships with internationals here and abroad and have tread very lightly on this issue – . But my goodness, I first heard the term anchor babies on an ABC Nightline feature (and have read and heard numerous times since) the media using it in a way that was entirely descriptive, like “latch key kids.” Both terms are indictments against the parents, not the kids. I see wikipedia now says anchor babies is usually used in a derogatory fashion. If there indeed was a shift from this being a descriptive term to a derogatory term, I’m among those who didn’t get the memo. If the term IS derogatory I’d suggest that what is being looked down on is this growing problem of birth tourism and this end run around the 14th Amendment.

    With respect Troy, calls for the resignation of Rep. Steele are baseless, in my view.

  9. oldguy

    Troy I have heard the term anchor baby before and really thought nothing of it as a term. After reading your post I understand your point. It is about a new human life period .

  10. Duh

    I believe “anchor babies” does not degregate the baby but defines that the parents may use them as a tool to gain citizenship for at least the baby. I don’t see any racism involved as the babies could be canadian, irish, german. The definition is about the process, not the human.

    1. Name


      Manny Steele is a really good person he is very committed to his views and I guess he at least stirred up debate. Unfortunately it appears the GOP in SD is now running away from illegal immigration.

      Troy your post was so long I quit reading it but as always I think you are very intelligent.

  11. William


    I always find your posts well written and have a great respect for you but as I read this, I feel that you’re interpreting the rather common term “anchor baby” as a pejorative description of the child itself, rather that a term that describes the ROLE of the child, who as a U.S. citizen through the legal principle of jus soli, may facilitate immigration for relatives through family reunification. I’m not arguing that SOME may indeed find the term offensive, but this is a term that has been used for many years, in the mainstream media and in public policy discussions to describe the ROLE that “birthright citizenship” plays in the immigration debate.

    I also don’t believe the term itself is particularly “offensive” to those that are protesting it. They’re primarily trying to deflect criticism of the issue of non-citizens giving birth in the US as a means to bypass the legal migration process.

  12. Bill Fleming

    I submit that a post as fervently and intelligently argued as Troy’s should not be hastily and flippantly rebutted. For once it might be a good idea to read what he has written all the way through ? maybe four or five times ? and just let the wisdom of his words sink in.

    Thank you Troy. Best thing I have ever read on this blog ? maybe on any blog. I appreciate the time, the heart, and the soul you put in it, my friend.

  13. Bob Ellis

    If you want to get upset about a term which accurately describes the manner in which illegal aliens use their own children, your angst would be more appropriately directed at the illegal aliens (and their liberal apologists) who use their children in this manner, not a good representative who is trying to curb this illegal activity.

    As Rep. Hickey has already pointed out, before this week, I had never heard even a hint that anyone might be offended at the term “anchor baby.”

    This is a faux controversy ginned up by a liberal pro-illegal alien group utilizing a favored page from the Leftist playbook: smear an opponent using emotional charges to draw attention away from the facts of the issue. To put it more simply, it’s a manufactured offense designed to distract.

    It is largely irrelevant whether the illegal alien came to this with the intent of siring an anchor baby, or whether that child was merely born with no particular nationalistic intent on the part of the parents…but is NOW being used as an anchor. The end result is the same: the illegal alien is attempting to use the child as an anchor to allow them to remain in our country illegally.

    To use a child in such a despicable manner is indeed worthy of generating offense–toward the lawbreaker, not toward the lawmaker who is attempting to deal with the lawbreaking.

    1. interested party

      Reading responses from red state apologists is never short of flabbergasting. A drive through Colorado City, Arizona gives one a perspective on the child sex trade that just goes ignored and will have to be defended by Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman for as long as they withstand assaults from those standing on more purportedly “higher” christian ground.

      Sleight of hand goes both ways; bombast is the kind of magicianship at which The Right excels. South Dakota hosts multitudinous cult enclaves where human breeding stock are traded like “anchors.”

      Mr. Steele should manage his own pile before denying children access to education by diverting resources to administer such red state quixotica.

    2. Christine Chapel

      Reading responses from red state apologists is never short of flabbergasting. A drive through Colorado City, Arizona gives one a perspective on the child sex trade that just goes ignored and will have to be defended by Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman for as long as they withstand assaults from those standing on more purportedly ?higher? christian ground.

      Sleight of hand goes both ways; bombast is the kind of magicianship at which The Right excels. South Dakota hosts multitudinous cult enclaves where human breeding stock are traded like ?anchors.?

      Mr. Steele should manage his own pile before denying children access to education by diverting resources to administer such red state quixotica.

  14. farber

    I am so sick of political correctness, and this is a perfect example. There have been stories of people, not only from Mexico, coming to the US from foreign countries to have their babies simply to give them USA citizenship. This is a fact. It isn’t the fault of the baby that he/she is being used to keep the parents in the USA oftentimes and this term is not meant to demean babies, but to demean the “process.” To deny this is complete ignorance of the facts. To be against this misuse of the purpose of the 14th amendment, or to call it what it is, is not derogatory and not offensive. If so, where was the outrage from all of you for the last several years when this term has been commonplace on news stations in all media outlets.? Good grief. So I suppose now anyone who advocates for closing the border, for deporting illegal immigrants, for wanting an end to ignoring the law as regards illegal immigration will be deemed racist, nasty, etc etc. I usually agree with Troy Jones, but this time he is way off the mark. And yes, I will give kudos to Manny Steele for daring to bring this issue to the forefront. I doubt it will go anywhere because most don’t have any spine for really fixing this problem and telling it like it is. And that is the very dangerous problem of political correctness. I would hope that all of you who are outraged by the term anchor baby are equally outraged at the nastiness and namecalling directed toward Sarah Palin, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, etc.

  15. Spencer

    Could we somehow shift the focus from “anchor babies” back to the parents by referring to the parents as “economic and social welfare rapists”? Then people would more clearly understand how some illegal immigrants are using every morsel of American goodwill to drag us into the gutter.

    Assuming Somos Republicanos is not a front group for some liberal wedge strategy against conservatives, these people must be some of the biggest dullards in politics to swallow this line of garbage hook, line, and sinker. This is as silly as buying the line that one is not truly ?pro-life? unless one supports a subsidized welfare state for one’s entire life. If you think I am going to abandon Manny Steele for these special-interest crazies, think again.

  16. Voter

    Me thinks that thou doth protest too much.

    I was recently raked over the coals because I answered all questions on another post. When I asked some reasonable people to look at my posts and give me a clue what was so offensive I was told that answering every question with a truthful rebuttal was the culprit. So be sure to get on the phone or post somewhere else where people agree with you –so that you aren’t the only one writing long answers to everyone’s questions.

    People who come into the country illegally do not live by the rule of law. This makes them different than the black population (offensive term coons) who came to America longer ago than legal Italian immigrants (offensive term Wags) than most legal Chinese (offensive term Chincs) and legal Scandinavians (big dumb Swede or Norski?) Every generation has had its challenges–Polock and what did they call the Irish on Long Island??

    Anchor Babies describes the situation of people trying to circumvent Mexico’s corruption and oppression of its people by coming to America to to exploit the good hearts of the American people. It has only become offensive recently as the Hispanic population tries to distract us from looking at the real issue of people who don’t believe in the rule of law and don’t pull their own weight.. It isn’t any more offensive than the terms that every generation before them have dealt with.

    We need to stop ALL welfare–take over Mexico–jail ALL of their leaders–send their police force to Alaska. That would solve the problem! Think of all of the tourist taxes that we could collect!

  17. 73*

    What I like about Troy is that he doesn’t care if it’s an R or a D that he disagrees with he will speak his mind.

    Keep it up my man. Even if I disagree I will give you props for it.

  18. Arrowhead

    Manny should know that some words probably aren’t propper to use in everyday talk. If he says that at a bar with his friends he’s going to get a different response than in the legislature or to a paper.

    So it’s a good lesson for all legislators to learn form.

        1. Name

          I cant stand blog trols hu sit and atempt too corect speling mistakes on a blog that is intended for opinyon.

          Manny should not resign. he is good person.

          Also troy made some good points but i think he missed that the baby doesn’t refer to baby as more the parents trying to cheat the system.

          Hukt on fonix workt fur me.

  19. Lee Schoenbeck

    Hell froze over tonight (now if my ice skating rink would this week – it would be a good week). Troy Jones got called a liberal! The original South Dakota Jack Kemp fan club chair, a member of the Youh for Reagan delegate to the 1980 GOP convention (when most of these pretenders were for somebody else because Reagan was too radical). The guy that saved the Abdnor campus campaign when Paul Erickson went in the tank for McGovern —— got called a liberal tonight. Little buddy, I can’t hang with you any more or people with think that you and I both like old Flemdog. πŸ™‚ PEACE

  20. Get-a-Clue

    Farber & Voter are 100% right on the mark here – just as Troy Jones is 1000% off the mark. Troy, please get over yourself! I would note that I’m not necessarily in support of Steele’s legislation – but, political speak is not a crime, for heaven’s sake. There is no – let me repeat “no” racism within such a term by the one who speaks it. Again, the reason being that such babies could of course be born to illegal Canadian immigrant parents. (BTW, is the term “Canuck” offensive, eh?)

    Troy, I have observed you in-person and on these blogs for some time and have always thought that you perhaps believed you were just a little better and just a little smarter than the rest of us. I must now say, your politically correct tirade here goes a long way in confirming my original thoughts. However, you, sir, are neither better nor smarter than the rest of us. Also, how’s that old saying go again: Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t…

    Rather than offering your nauseatingly pious and over-the-top call for Steele’s resignation, lets see YOU boldly step forward and offer the true courage of your (supposed) convictions and run for a legislative seat here in Dist. 12 in ’12.

  21. Les

    Get a Clue, careful, though I have not ruminated on Troys post long enough to have it figured out, it feels to me the pot’s(you) calling the kettle black.

    As for Troys post, too many words and the thoughts a little fragmented for this ADD kid.

  22. PNR

    I was not aware that the term “anchor baby” was anything other than common usage, nor do I understand why the term offends.

    It is also incontrovertibly true that a subset of illegal aliens of a numerical value significantly larger than zero do use their children in this fashion – a use that not only abuses our laws but abuses their children. What do you propose we call such children and their parents as we discuss the practice and how we should respond to it? If we are to discuss it, we must call it something. Methinks, however, that part of the offense is precisely that the term allows the discussion and these Hispanic organizations do not want that discussion to happen. “Anchor baby” is a convenient shorthand, but I’m open to other terms if you have them because we need to discuss it.

    I have called my own children “Monsters”, “Rugrats”, “Ankle-biters”, and several other things I learned as a sailor but aren’t suitable for a web site. They seem none the worse for wear. Children are fairly resilient and I do not think “anchor baby” will scar them even a little. The reality the term describes – that’s a different matter and that’s what needs to be discussed.

  23. Name Rancher

    Message I got to say, I agree with Troy 99% of the time but this article left me scratching my head. Troy, if you have to write an article this long to justifly and explain the merits of your offence, maybe you should just let it go.

  24. rob regier

    i didn’t read your whole post, troy — sorry, it was a little lengthy — but it certainly did make me think. your comparison to “wetback” is thought-provoking. certainly, “anchor baby” could take the same ugly turn.

    but … you’re a man ahead of your time, troy. i certainly can see how the term could someday be used in a pejorative manner, but for now, it is not. i respectfully ask you to give rep. steele a break.

  25. Troy Jones Post author

    Fair question, Rob. But I don’t. In nearly all context of the discussion, somewhere there is a thread of concern and love for the child. Without expressing an opinion on the issue of defining citizenship, all of the discussion where I hear “anchor baby” it is in the context of the utility of the baby to the parent with nary a word about the baby itself and its inherent dignity as a human being.

    Rancher: I hear you. But, in my heart (and mind via my experience), I don’t believe this particular “utility” transcends the love of parent to child. And, this may be my rub with the term as its users are too quick to infer this utility transcends this love. While I’ve met parents where I questioned their expression of their love for their child, I’ve never met one where this love was transcendent over everything but love of spouse and God. In fact, it is my opinion, most of our illegal immigration problem is grounded in this love of parent for their children. Not saying it justifies anything but it explains it. BTW, I meant to make clear that after counting to 1,000, a demand for Steele’s resignation is over the top. I mentioned it to honestly tell you it was my first reaction (before I counted to 10). I sign my name with total full disclosure.

    PNR: I have a similar response to you as Rancher but you bring up a point. The primary reason this term is used is in the context of the illlegal immigration debate, in particular the reality (right or wrong) families that include a natural born citizen are less likely to face deportation. Like you state, it is important we name issues. I just don’t believe referring to a person whose only “sin” is being born does the issue justice.

    Charlie: I know you think the word causing the trouble is anchor but for me it baby. And, I for me babies are worth this much trouble. Keep up the good work.

    Voter: The term “coon” genesis is to describe fugitive slaves because coon hounds were used to track them down. Their crime was fleeing from a law which denied them basic human dignity. I’m ok having the debate on defining citizenship. I just think we need to do it without impugning an innocent baby.

    Farber: I agree with most of the essence of your comments, including defending the baseless and personal nature of the attacks against Palin and Thomas. I’m for aggressive enforcement of our borders and deportation laws, including deportation of families that include a minor US citizen. But, I don’t agree this is about polticial correctness (but understand how you might disagree with me). I wrote this on a blog knowing I would be criticized politically. Most importantly, I don’t think it is a distraction. In fact, I think many of the tangential efforts by the state’s in frustrated response to the failure of the federal government is the distraction. At the core, the bulk of the problem resides with the failure of the federal government to protect our border and enforce existing law. This needs to be the focus. Solving this problem will allow us to debate citizenship, employment of illegal immigrants, etc. rationally and on the merits.

    Agree or disagree with me. Those who know me understand one thing (ie Rob Reiger and “old guy” -old guy do you know me?) is for me this use of terminology references a new precious life. Infer what you choose about my motives but the term “baby” is way to personal for me.

    1. anymouse

      Really? Care and concern for the baby? Did we make the mother walk miles to cross our border and then walk another 200 miles to get to a population center where her baby anchors her to our soil? Did our government invite them here or did her government push her to do it because they can’t afford anymore untrained workers draining their tax dollars and health care system? If the mother doesn’t care enough about the health of her and her baby, why should we?

  26. rob regier

    i’m not sure, troy. i just think you’re reading way too much into it. do you honestly believe that those of us who disagree with you, including manny steele, have no “thread of concern and love for the child?” for that “anchor baby?” because i do. and i’m sure manny does.

    when rep. steele uses the term, i think you can take heart that underlying his use of it is a concern for that baby, who is often used as an anchor. not much unlike how “latchkey” is used.

    you talk about inferences. might i submit that your inference, in this case, is incorrect, given rep. steele’s track record?

  27. Les

    I have friends in Costa Rica who I’ve just learned don’t have to leave every 3 months because they just had their anchor baby.

    I remember being called racist in my early days at KSTP-tv Minneapolis because I referred to black Americans as they. This country boy with black,brown and yellow friends still does not understand the mentality of all the political correctness.

  28. wow

    Based upon my background, I am not comfortable with the term “illegal aliens.” I picture something green and monstrous, swooping down from other planets. (firery red eyes, scales, and long tail) Now I am

  29. Elais

    I would like to correct Voter.

    The offensive term for Italians is Wops, I believe. For Chinese it is Chinks. Japanese=Japs or Nips or the more all purpose Gooks. Pretty much every immigrant group (legal or illegal) has some offensive nickname to it.

    Republicans keep whining about illegal immigrants but offer no realistic solutions, other than the Great Wall of Mexico, or Incarceration for simply existing. I’m surprised Republicans haven’t advocated for the round up of illegal immigrants and shipping them back to Mexico by train.

  30. Charlie Hoffman

    Troy for me it is always about the damage done. Having someone call me a “Big Fat German” to my face might get a cocked head reply and an acknowledgement of it being fact. Everyone listening chuckles with me and looks at the heckler with disdain. The damage done to my reputation is zero but the name caller loses a bit of shine off his bat in the eyes of those listening. The same can easily be applied to racial slurs, innuendos of hurtful vengeance and any primary verbal assault. Few thought it funny when then Vice President Dick Chenney told a member of the US Senate to conduct an impossible position and many lost respect for him forever after that incident. We remember things like that yet most American’s would also say the term anchor baby cannot ever affect the outcome of the baby, only the future conduct of mothers continuing the same. We have allowed the 14th Amendment to become abused not only by illegal immigrants walking across our border but very wealthy flying in and creating a permanent marriage to our country with their newly born baby. Both are 100% wrong in my mind and though the term; anchor, may be vengeful to some it is correct terminology in describing the events occuring in these types of births.

    In looking at our border with Mexico I am much more concerned about the drug killings and Al Qaida extending into our country than I am of a pregnant mother coming here to have her baby. We can run a million bills covering every conceivable illegal immigrant situation which might occur yet none will do anything to stem the flow unless the Federal Government steps up to the plate enforcing our Federal laws. My respect for Manny Steele is rock solid and anyone reading this should realize that for most of us; Rep. Steele included, we do what we think we must without any great regard for getting re-elected. I believe in SD this is what the public demands.

    And Troy my respect and love for you friend runs deep, and always will. πŸ™‚

    1. Anymouse

      William, you forget, unless the liberals make a new law that the illegals will break, no one did anything. They don’t think existing laws are fair to illegals and I say we make our laws just as tough as Mexico.

    2. Troy Jones Post author

      In my post about the term, I think this point got lost. Until we deal with the two major issues (protect border and enforce current law), everything else is trying to like trying to pop a pimple. The major items will remove the bulk of the emotion and frustration.

      1. springer

        Yes, the two major items would be the way to solve the issue, but since the fed gov’t refuses to address this issue, the states are left to try to cope with the problem as best they can. And I applaud any actions taken by the states to do so. Illegal immigrants are just that, illegal, breaking our laws, and the states have every right and responsibility to deal with people who break the law (especially since the fed gov’t refuses to).

  31. Gburger

    I know where Troy is coming from, and I find myself wanting to defend his position, but then I realize that I wouldn’t defend the position if it was anybody else that was taking this stand. To defend an innocent and defenseless baby against derogatory remarks and name calling is admirable, but the fact remains that the despicable act of using that child as an “anchor” by the parent is not admirable.

    Enforcing existing laws would go a long way in helping some of the problems, but a much better way is taking away the incentives to come to this country and living off the goodwill of the taxpayers. I have no problem with immigrants coming here to work and better their lives, but the ones that come to take advantage of the system should not even have that option.

    I know a couple from South Africa who have been working on their citizenship for 5 years. They recently had a baby, and between them and their employer had to pretty much pay for the whole hospital bill in cash. They said if they would have come here illegally, they not only would have had the entire bill paid for by the government, but would probably have had their citizenship because of amnesty by now. That is just not right!

      1. Les

        Larry @What a crock. Your source Beck?

        Larry, I had an almost identical converstation with a young man from S Africa working in the US whom I tried to hire. He could have gone to Canada, paid his money and gotten his girl friend illegaly into the US through Canada, done the anchor thing and then married her to cynch his status as I remember. He was not about to diminish his values when asked “why not” by myself.

      2. Gburger

        No, my source is my employee! Do you want his name and phone # to confirm it. He has nothing to hide since he is one of the few that is being penalized for doing it the right way.

        1. Troy Jones Post author

          There is never a penalty for doing it the right way, including the fruits from perserverance. I think you mean to reference the perversion of rewarding wrong behavior.

          1. springer

            Sorry, Troy, but this young man was penalized for obeying the law. He did the right thing but was “rewarded” by having to pay for his own hospital benefits when he would have gotten it all free if he was an illegal. Somehow this “reward” is actual reverse discrimination against legal immigrants.

  32. Duh

    I keep coming back to the same point “illegal is illegal”. How is that different from any “innocent” person having to come to justice even though they may not have done anything wrong. Madoff investors for one having to return their profits made. Employees that get laid off because their employers were violating laws and got the business shut down. I know, I know, they’re kids but that doesn’t make the activity any less illegal.

  33. Troy Jones Post author

    William is right. We have a big problem and we have political issues. The big problem is our borders are not secure. Without out this problem, everything else becomes insignificant, including discussing the efficacy of the federal government to deport any who are here illegally. With secure borders, we can debate who is a citizen and everything else solely on its merits without thinking it would somehow have a significant effect on illegal immigration.

    Springer: I must be missing something. Having to pay for services one uses is not a penalty (whether out of pocket or with insurance we paid for). The reality some receive charity (either from neighbors, non-profits including hospitals, or the government) doesn’t make it a penalty the one who doesn’t need charity pays for their services. I’m always grateful I can pay for my own services and my heart goes out to those who can’t.

    Duh: Your analogies don’t work. Madoff investers are not returning profits “they made.” They are returning “profits” they didn’t make. And employees getting laid off are not being brought to justice. They are losing their job because their job no longer exists. The circumstances of why their job ended is irrelevant.

    Justice is simply giving a person their due. An innocent person upon who is imposed a penalty (see my comment to Springer) is never justice. I don’t want my comments on this term plus my view it is a distraction from the primary solution (see my comment about William) to cause anyone to misinterpret my view on the problem of illegal immigrants. I have no problem with deporting parents who have a US citizen in their family. As parental rights over a minor in their care transcend even citizenship, they are within their rights to take this US citizen to their home country with them. If citizenship is narrowed, children then since born will be subject to deportation regardless of the parent’s desires for the child.

    Final comment: America has too many laws to enforce on nearly every facet of our lives and we have insufficient law enforcement resources to enforce all these laws. We’d have to be a police state to enforce them all fairly and uniformly with cops on every corner and surveillance camera’s virtually in our homes and businesses and on our streets. When we say “Illegal is illegal” we are creating demands on law enforcement that will never be met as America will never be a police state. The reality is we either have to reduce our number and reach of our laws equal to the resources we are actually willing to dedicate to law enforcement or we have to understand law enfocement will have de facto discretion on what laws do get enforced or enforcement will be haphazard and not uniform.

    As one who loves our law enforcement and think they do an amazing job overall, I cringe when I hear “illegal is illegal” as it implies someone is intentionally not enforcing the law. Don’t get me wrong. I think from the top of the federal government (during this and past administrations) there is insufficient and misguided focus regarding our immigration laws. But, in the end, I doubt the American people would ever spend the money it is estimated to deport ever illegal in the US. Again, the solution goes to securing our border just like the best and most effective crime prevention is locking our home and taking the keys from our car.

    In the end, and I think the American people understand this (but our politicians and federal government doesn’t seem to), we have to enforce our borders first and foremost. Until we do, everything else is dealing with the symptom and not the problem. A secure border will overtime allow enforcement of our deportation laws to be more than just plugging holes in the dike but actually reduce the “water levels.”

    As much as there may be merits to ALL of the host of other issues being debated around immigration, they don’t add up to a small percentage of the impact that would be accomplished by securing our border. And a secure border has exponential side benefits such as reduced costs for local, state, federal governments, strains on our infrastructure, crime, unemployment, etc.). It would lead to a more orderly and just guest worker program insuring there are less hidden costs to our society.

    Friends, it is my opinion SUBSTANTIVELY nothing else matters and EVERY discussion except securing our border is a distraction from ultimately solving the problem.

  34. springer

    Troy, I agree with what you said that the only actual solution to illegal immigration is securing the borders. But in the absence of that (and I truly believe that will never happen because neither poltiical party on the federal level has the willingness or the cajones (?) to do it, period), short of just throwing up our hands and saying fine, whatever — the only other options seem to be the actions that the states are taking. Tightening the rules on babies born to people here illegally (or here legally just long enough to have a baby) would have an impact (see, I said that without using the word that is offensive to you, even though it is the same thing). If the federal govt refuses to address a problem, it behooves the states to protect themselves.

    1. Troy Jones Post author

      Springer, I think we can secure our borders. We can make our federal government accountable. If the current administration won’t do it, in 2012, we can have a new President who will.

      We probably will disagree but I think every issue we discuss which distracts from the primary and most significant solution (border control) makes the ultimate solution less likely and longer down the road. Singularity of focus is the only way for our elected leaders to know they have to get this border controlled. Period.

      Thanks for discussing the issue without being offensive. πŸ™‚ Yes, it could have an impact. So could a hundred other things. And collectively, they won’t impact the problem as much as stopping a weeks worth of people coming across our border illegally.

  35. William

    Thanks Troy, and as usual you get to the heart of the issue when you say, “the reality is we either have to reduce our number and reach of our laws equal to the resources we are actually willing to dedicate to law enforcement or we have to understand law enforcement will have de facto discretion on what laws do get enforced or enforcement will be haphazard and not uniform.’

    So true, not only in the immigration debate, but in far too many areas of today’s society. When we have so many laws (and regulations) that we lose consistent enforcement of our laws, we no longer have equality under the law.

  36. Duh

    Regardless of the terminology used… The baby isn’t damaged due to the fact he/she still gets to go back to the motherland with the parents.

  37. Bill Fleming

    It’s probably worth mentioning that something like 40% of the people who are here illegally did not enter the country illegally. They came in as tourists or with green cards (work visas). Hence, simply “securing the borders” isn’t the complete solution to the problem.

      1. Troy Jones

        I actually think it is the fundamental solution. The 40% Bill mentions there is a record of their entry and ultimately the reality they didn’t exit can be tracked and dealt with. The 60% for which there is no record is the challenge that can never be solved until the border is secure. Plus the resources to find the 60% and deport them/incarcerate them can be used to deal with a much smaller universe.

    1. William

      BF, you know full well that without the incentives to stay, most immigrants that are not here legally will self-deport, without “rounding them up”. I do not support the continued exploitation of the illegal underclass our present immigration enforcement has created. I’m sure you don’t either.

  38. BurningBrule

    Given that it is Bill Fleming who is Troy’s most passionate defender on this forum on this topic tells you much of the substance of Troy’s thoughtful – but substatively wrong – posting. And his call for Steele’s resignation is absurd.

  39. Bill Fleming

    On the contrary Brule, when people who in general hold opposing views on most issues finally, wholeheartedly agree on one, it is a sign of substantive non-partisan rightness. Or perhaps more in the vernacular, “even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”

  40. Troy Jones Post author

    In case anyone is wondering, nobody has been able to figure out what happened to the first 76 posts. In fact, if you look behind what you can see, they appear to all still exist.

    Maybe the War College has been hacked except that would imply people really care what we say here. πŸ™‚

  41. Duh

    Troy, I looked behind these posts and all I can see is wires, cords and some dust bunnies… πŸ˜‰

    This has happened in a couple other posts. Maybe they have limits on the traffic on a particular post?


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