Anchor Babies and the Challenge of Birthright Citizenship

Anchor Babies and the Challenge of Birthright Citizenship

Joon K. Kim of Colorado State University reviews Anchor Babies and the Challenge of Birthright Citizenship by Leo R. Chavez. Leo R. Chavez explores the deep and contentious history of birthright citizenship in the United States. A history that is often hard to square in a country that prides itself on being “a nation of immigrants.” Even as the question of citizenship for children of immigrants was seemingly settled by the Fourteenth Amendment, vitriolic debate has continued for well over a century, especially in relation to U.S. race relations. Most recently, a provocative and decidedly more offensive term than birthright citizenship has emerged: “anchor babies.” With this book, Leo R. Chavez explores the question of birthright citizenship, and of citizenship in the United States writ broadly, as he counters the often hyperbolic claims surrounding these so-called anchor babies. Chavez considers how the term is used as a political dog whistle, how changes in the legal definition of citizenship have affected the children of immigrants over time, and, ultimately, how U.S.-born citizens still experience trauma if they live in families with undocumented immigrants. By examining this pejorative term in its political, historical, and social contexts, Chavez calls upon us to exorcise it from public discourse and work toward building a more inclusive nation.

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Publication Part Of International Migration Review
Author Names

Book by Leo R. Chavez, University of California, Irvine
Reviewed by Joon K. Kim, Colorado State University

Journal International Migration Review
Date of Publication Fall 2018
Pages 966-968
DOI 10.1177/0197918318770373
Volume 52
Issue Number 3