Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tancredo: The Problem with Birthright Citizenship

Tom Tancredo links to his interview with Paula Zahn about the "huge" problem of "anchor babies," children born to illegal immigrant mothers in the United States.

I've done a transcript, starting at 2:41 into the program.

Zahn: The idea that you can cross the border just to have a baby who will be a U.S. citizen and then stay in this country legally has a lot of people outraged, and joining me now to debate this, Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, and Representative Tom Tancredo, a Republican from Colorado who serves on the Bipartisan House Immigration Reform Caucus. Good to have both of you with us tonight, welcome.

Salas: It's a pleasure.

Tancreado: Thank you.

Zahn: Congressman Tancredo, how big of a problem is it that illegal immigrants are having children in this country so that those babies will become U.S. citizens?

Tancredo: It's a huge problem, and it's growing every single day. There are people coming across the border specifically for the reason of having a child in the United States, having it anchored as a citizen, later on then to be able to have that child bring in their family, under family reunification. So many people are doing that, Paula, that there are neo-natal wards in hospitals around the country, especially in, in the southern part of the country, uh, southern part of, of the united states along the border, that have closed their neo-natal units, they can't handle it. Get this, over 60% of the, of the births to, uh, mothers in the Los Angeles, uh, hospital district are to people who are illegal aliens. Over 60% of the births. So to suggest that this is not a problem is, well, is whistling past the graveyard.

Zahn: Miss Salas, do you even concede tonight that this is a problem, and that this is a burden for U.S. taxpayers?

Salas: Well, what I do know is that immigrants are coming to this country to work, um, that they are producing tax, tax based, um taxes that actually pay for these, um, hospitals, and that...

Zahn: But are you denying that they are having children simply so those babies will become U.S. citizens?

Salas: That is not the reason that they are coming to this country...

Zahn: But's that is happening, isn't it?

Salas: Well, when you...

Tancredo: Miss Salas, Miss Salas, you know that is not true.

Salas: When individuals work and they live in this country they will obviously have families in this country, and that their children are born in this country and that they're citizens, it's because they are here working. And that's the reason people come, they don't come here to have babies.

Tancredo: Miss Salas, do you know, Miss Salas, do you know that there are people who show up, and I'm not talking about individual incidents, I'm talking about by the hundreds over a period of time. There are people who show up at the border, sometimes in an ambulance, sometimes just in a car, about ready to give birth, in order to get into this country and have that birth in the United States? Are you telling me they're working here just by, just happen to be here at the time that they're pregnant? Of course not. You know, ma'am, that this is happening. You cannot suggest that this is not a huge problem.

Salas: I think that any parent wants the very best for their children, and if it means that across the border they're going to have a better life because they are citizens, I think any parent will want the best for their child. However, I do not concede that this is the reason that people are coming to this country.

Zahn: All right, let me ask you this, Congressman Tancredo, we know that it would be all but impossible...

Tancredo: (chuckle) Oh my God. well we don't even have a starting point here.

Zahn: round up 11 million undocumented workers. And there are folks who say that if you did that, the U.S. economy would come to a grinding halt.

Tancredo: Okay, let me, can I have one word more on this anchor baby issue, however, for just a second?

Zahn: Sure.

Tancredo: You know, Paula, the fact is that the, uh, we're one of the last countries in the world to continue to do this. Uh, several other countires used to, but threw it away a long time ago. Mexico is the only other country now that allows it, and really, they don't have much of a problem with people going there to have their babies. But the reality is that it is a huge problem, it's an economic problem, it's also, I think, a, it's a real issue in terms of what citizenship really means in the United States. Is it just coming across the line to have your kid, and then citizenship expands, or is it something more important? In terms of your question about the 11 to 20 million people...

Zahn: Quickly.

Tancredo: ...I'm sorry, I know we've got to close up on this. In fact, all you have to do is go after the employer, stop them from allowing, I mean being the magnet, don't employ these people because it's against the law to do so, they will go home, you don't have to round up 11 million people.

Zahn: Miss Salas, final question for you tonight, if a foreign diplomat has a child here in the United States, that child does not become a U.S. citizen. So why shouldn't the child of an illegal immigrant mirror the status of his or her parent?

Salas: Because, um, American values basically promote citizen, birthright citizenship because we are a nation of immigrants. There have been generations of immigrants that have come to this nation, and birthright citizenship allows us to become, to continue to be integrated as a nation, so that people from all over the world can actually be united under their citizenship. We are different from any other country in the world because there is no other country, um, that, whose whose real beginning and founding is based on immigrants coming to this nation. And these are...

Zahn: Alright, we'll have to leave the debate here this evening, Angelica Salas, Representative Tancredo, thank you for both of your perspectives.

Salas: Thank you.

Tancredo: Thank you very much.

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