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Anchors away: Arizona takes aim at society's youngest members
Wed, 16 Jun 2010 18:12:26 GMT
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By Tahereh Ghanaati

Imagine, just for a moment that you are a Mexican woman, a mother of two -- and an illegal immigrant -- a woman like Aracely Rodriguez...

Though she is still young, only 28, Aracely is well acquainted with hardship and deprivation. She grew up in Sonora in northern Mexico. Her life could have been described in terms of heat, sweat and hard, unrelenting labor, with little financial compensation. Her world was a forlorn, tumbled down little pueblo, baking under a relentless sun that shone fiercely in a hard and unforgiving sky. The lament of the dusty winds that moaned around the ramshackle little town's broken adobe walls seemed to echo her own sense of hopelessness.

Aracely and her husband, Tomas, were dirt poor -- and it wasn't a matter of laziness. Both worked hard, when work could be found, but everybody else in their town was just about as poor as they were. The bottom line was that there was no work to be had -- nothing that paid, at any rate. The young couple subsisted on a diet of beans and corn tortillas. On special occasions, they would scrape together enough money to splurge on fatty tamales or chicharrones, made from the skins of half-starved chickens.

One evening, however, everything changed. Tomas came home and collapsed wearily onto one of the ancient dinette's cracked, vinyl chairs. As Aracely set down the pottery plates for the meager evening meal, Tomas told her that he had come to a decision. Wearily wiping the sweat from his brow, he said that he was tired of starving and seeing Aracely starve. They were going to do something about it. They were going 'over the border' to the United States, where he was confident they could find work.

Months later, after innumerable hardships, the couple arrived in Arizona to discover that the rumors they had heard in Mexico were true. Despite the recession in the United States, there were numerous jobs to be had. They were low-paying jobs - by American standards - and involved hard, physical labor. To put it simply, they were jobs that no American would want. Aracely and Tomas, however, were delighted. He quickly found a job in construction (with a small, private company,) and she went to work for an American family as a maid. Their lot began to improve.

A couple of years later, they received a gift from Heaven - a little daughter. In their eyes, she was the most beautiful child in the world so they named her 'Bonita'.

In actuality, her arrival proved to be a double blessing. Not only was she delightful, but she had been born on US soil -- and that, according to United States law, made her an American citizen. Moreover, the fact that their daughter was an American meant that Aracely and Tomas no longer had to live in constant fear of being deported. Life was good. It was turning out the way they had always hoped it would be.

Several years down the road, they have another baby. This time it is a little boy, whom they name 'Tomasito'; but circumstances have changed. This child is not as fortunate as Bonita. A new law has been passed denying citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. And another law, SB 1070, is now in effect against illegals.

It is only a matter of time before Tomas is caught in the dragnet. One day, he simply doesn't come home from work and Aracely learns that he was arrested along with several other illegals and will be deported to Mexico.

A day later, Aracely hears that a couple of illegals have been killed in some accident with the border patrol while being sent back to Mexico. Was her husband one of them? She has no way of knowing and is afraid to ask; but the days turn into weeks and there is still no word from Tomas.

Now Aracely is faced with a dilemma. Along with the agony of not knowing the fate of her husband, she has the welfare of two young children to think about. One is legal and the other, illegal. She, herself, is illegal and knows she is in danger of being deported at anytime. She is afraid to remain in Arizona, where they are cracking down ever harder on illegals, but doesn't want to leave in case Tomas is alive and tries to get in touch with her. What can she do?

In their new clampdown on illegal immigration, Arizona Republicans, led by Governor Jan Brewer, now have society's youngest members, the so-called 'anchor babies,' in their crosshairs. And in doing so, they risk violating the United States Constitution.

An anchor baby is the US-born child of illegal immigrants. Though the parents are illegal, the child is automatically an American because the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution specifies that anyone born in the United States is a citizen. The Amendment reads: "all persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."

Obviously, a young child cannot take care of itself and needs its parents to care for it. These facts weigh in favor of the parents and serve as a legal 'anchor,' helping them remain on US soil despite their illegal status. Thus, these children are called 'anchor babies.'

Numbers of Arizona Republicans, including Governor Brewer and State Senator, Russell Pierce, who served as the head architect for SB1070 -- the controversial Arizona immigration law, which many claim targets Latinos -- maintain that these anchor babies are carefully planned. According to Pierce, illegal immigrants have purposefully "hijacked" the 14th Amendment by having children in the United States as a means of manipulating the law and remaining themselves.
Governor Brewer, who enthusiastically backed SB 1070, and signed into law this bill, which allows the police to arbitrarily stop people and question their immigration status, naturally approves of Pierce's views, which many believe will be translated into a new bill. That bill, if passed, would constitute the next step in Arizona's apartheid.

When asked during a recent interview with the state's local ABC affiliate about solving the problem of illegal parents with American children, Brewer said that they could take their children back with them.

She explained that since the illegal immigrants are the ones, who have chosen to break the law to begin with, separation from their children is their problem and not the government's.

“It is illegal to trespass in our country. It has always been illegal. And people have determined that they want to take that chance, that responsibility. It's not going to tear them apart. They can take their children back with them,” she said.

With views such as these, we can be fairly certain that the governor will be a major proponent of the new bill Pierce will allegedly introduce this fall, an addendum to SB 1070, specifically targeting illegal immigrants' American-born children.

According to some of Pierce's emails obtained by local Phoenix news reporter, Morgan Loew, the senator has stated that he intends to "push for an Arizona bill that would refuse to accept or issue a birth certificate that recognizes citizenship to those born to illegal aliens, unless one parent is a citizen .” In other words, if the bill Pierce advocates drawing up were to become law, any child born to illegal aliens in the state of Arizona would be denied US citizenship

This proposed piece of legislation, which is already being dubbed the "Anchor Baby Bill," flies in the face of the US Constitution. As has already been mentioned, the 14th Amendment not only specifies that anyone born on US soil is automatically granted citizenship, but goes on to emphasize that no state may make or enforce any law that would abridge the privileges or immunities of US citizens. In short, the United States government has the final say - not the individual states - and federal law takes precedence over state law.

The possibility of constitutional violation, however, has not rattled Pierce, who is quick to point out that such a move would have wide popular backing. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 58 percent of Americans surveyed believe that illegal immigrants, whose children are born in the United States should not receive citizenship. The percentage is even higher among Republicans (some 76 percent) and Arizona is a strongly Republican state.

Actually, Pierce does understand that there are major constitutional issues involved with the bill. He even admits that it will most likely end up before the US Supreme Court before it is finally enacted. At the same time, he maintains that such legal pitfalls can be circumvented through the careful wording of the legislation. "We will write it right," he said.

Arizona's new immigration law, SB 1070, is more than a piece of legislation. It is a virtual Pandora's Box of discrimination and intolerance that has introduced possibilities once unheard of in the United States. The Anchor Baby Bill is one of them.

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