In as troubling an immigration story as anyone will read this summer, between December 2017 and April 2018, U.S. Border Patrol and other immigration officials detained nearly 600 pregnant illegal aliens. All hope to give birth to children who will automatically be granted the world’s most coveted and cherished prize, citizenship of the United States of America.

Atop most analysts’ immigration grievance lists would be anchor baby citizenship, the process through which any child born on U.S. soil automatically receives U.S. citizenship. Over the decades, that birthright citizenship has been adopted as common practice, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on its legitimacy, tens of thousands of new American citizens have been born.

The birth tourism industry adds another ugly layer to the citizenship scam. The infants’ mothers, several months pregnant, enter the United States legally, but deceitfully, on a temporary tourist visa.

Along the way, they lie to immigration officials about the true purpose of their travel, which is not to go mall shopping as they claim. Instead, their travel goal is, specifically and excluding all else, to give birth to a U.S. citizen child.

Lying to immigration officials, called willful misrepresentation, and falsifying facts on an immigration document are crimes that can result in inadmissibility and being banned from the United States for up to 10 years. They may carry financial penalties, too.

The mothers and their spouses who fund the extravagant journey, mostly from China to California, show contempt for U.S. law.

But since birth tourism abuses are rarely prosecuted, foreign nationals continue to arrive with impunity. Maybe a gullible Congress has applied the “Keep Families Together” mantra to birth tourism, a troubling but not far-fetched probability.

Over the last several Congresses, numerous well-intended bills have been drafted that would require that for a newborn to become a citizen at least one parent must be a citizen, a lawful permanent resident or a military enrollee. The bills received little floor debate and only a handful of votes.

The dire consequences of Congress’ winking at anchor baby citizenship grow graver daily. According to the Congressional Budget Office, and based on data compiled from the Homeland Security Department and other immigration offices, it estimates that about 4.5 million U.S. citizens are anchor babies, under the age of 18 and have at least one inadmissible or deportable parent.

The 4.5 million anchor babies estimate exceeds the 4 million American children born every year. In the next decade, the CBO projects that there will be at least another 600,000 anchor babies, which would put the anchor baby population on track to exceed annual American births — assuming a stable U.S. birthrate — by more than 1 million anchor babies. Birthright citizenship is a huge illegal immigration lure.

Furthermore, CBO’s projection excludes the likely millions of anchor babies over the age of 18, and anchor babies living overseas with their deported foreign parents, but who nevertheless retain U.S. citizenship.

Even former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., recognized the ruinous anchor baby effect. In 1993, Reid, then a bastion of immigration enforcement, said about birthright citizenship: “No sane country would do that … you break our laws by entering this country without permission and give birth to a child, we reward that child with U.S. citizenship, and guarantee full access to all public and social services this society provides — and that’s a lot of services.”

An immigration do-nothing Congress lets the anchor baby abuse roll on even though demographers predict that it, along with legal immigration and immigrants’ children, will add 103 million to the U.S. population from 2015 to 2065.

Disregarding the anchor baby folly only increases the problem’s magnitude, and will lead to yet more unsustainable population growth.

— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at, or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Joe Guzzardi is an Institute for Sound Public Policy analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. A California native who now lives in Pittsburgh, he can be reached at The opinions expressed are his own.