Any semblance of serious deliberation on immigration in Washington has degenerated into a racially charged assault on the children of undocumented immigrants.
The attack itself isn't new--so-called anchor baby bills have been festering at the state level--but now it's gone national with viral speed. When Fox Television asked Lindsey Graham to respond to the judicial derailing of SB 1070 a few weeks ago, the Senator ducked and crossed, suggesting that what the nation really needs right now is anti-immigrant policing in its maternity wards.
Immigrant mothers, Graham said, "come here to drop a child. It's called drop and leave. They cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have the child and that child is automatically an American citizen. Graham said he wants to stop "20 million more 20 years from now" by amending the Constitution to abolish birthright citizenship. Congressional hearings on an amendment are planned for this fall.
Once Graham took it primetime, Mitch McConnell riffed on the "drop and leave" fallacy, denouncing the burgeoning business of flying in foreigners to give birth to American citizens. Then Texas Republican Louie Gohmert turned "tourist babies" into "terror babies," warning that terrorist cells are sending pregnant young women to the U.S. to bear citizens then "raised and coddled" into future terrorists.
Lost in the fear-mongering are the stories of real children terrorized by our political leaders failure to tackle immigration reform. In the past decade alone, tens of thousands of citizen children have lost their legal resident parents to deportation.
Fatoumata Gassama is the mother of 6 U.S. citizens. The INS stormed her family's New York home with machine guns in the middle of the night and took her husband, without asking for papers, then deported him without a trial. Gassama, now facing deportation herself, fled Senegal to escape genital mutilation. If Gassama is ordered deported she will have no choice but to return with her children, all US citizens, including her 4 daughters, who would almost certainly be subjected to the same torture from which their mother sought refuge in the United States.
Robin Templeton is a writer and organizer based in Brooklyn, New York.