What It's Like To Have Your Citizenship Challenged As An Anchor Baby

by Olivia Yusuf

Imagine being told you don’t deserve a right you have inherited from birth.

Imagine being told this right should be taken away from you.

Imagine being labelled and told you are only being used.

That is how anchor babies feel every day of their lives.

Anchor babies refer to children born to non-citizen parents in a country that has birthright citizenship, such as the United States of America.

Those against immigration or helping illegal aliens believe the sole purpose of these babies is to provide citizenship to parents.

It is not plausible to them that these babies are born because the parents wanted a child.

Those labeled as "anchor babies" are viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency.

As someone who has been labeled an anchor baby, let me tell you this is not true.

The reality is, there are many popular misconceptions around anchor babies.

While there are people who try to get around the system for their own benefit, this is not the norm.

Should we label everyone based on a small group?

Most do not fall under this category, and many of our families don't have the money to do so.

For most people, it just so happened these people became pregnant while living in the United States.

According to US federal law, no one under the age of 21 can sponsor his or her parents.

This "plan" is not a viable short- or long-term plan.

There is no guarantee and no immediate reward.

In theory, a parent would have to stay in hiding for 21 years.

This is a pipe dream.

I was born and raised in the United States, and I can speak perfect English.

My parents were illegal, and they moved us to Canada when I was 12.

This is not uncommon.

Many non-citizens move to different countries once they realize citizenship will not happen in the United States.

This happens on the daily, as more and more illegal immigrants are being sent back to their home countries.

My parents have been happily married for 23 years, and I recently turned 21.

Despite the way the media portrays anchor babies, my parents love me unconditionally.

Contrary to popular belief, they had me because they wanted a child, not because they needed a child.

I haven’t sponsored my parents, and they have never once pressured me to sponsor them.

Surprise, surprise: They actually love me and support me.

I see myself as an American.

I pride myself on being an American.

How come I am seen as undeserving of this citizenship?

I never thought much about being labeled as an anchor baby until I realized just how much it affects who I am.

A few months ago, I was crossing the border to return to New York City for the holidays.

At the border, the officer asked me, “How were you born in the US? Why were you born here?”

It took me a few minutes to come up with a response.

Telling him, “I don’t know sir, you’d have to ask my parents” probably wasn’t the best answer.

The truth is, I was born in the United States because my parents resided here (legally at the time).

As for how I was born?

Well, if you want me to explain the process of birth, I could go right ahead and do that.

After that incident, it happened to me two more times.

I felt attacked, and it was as if my answers for explaining my birth were unsatisfactory.

When you feel attacked about something you can’t change, it makes you feel like sh*t.

As sad as it is, I'm used to being profiled and stereotyped.

After all, I'm a visible minority.

All my life, I thought the only profiling I would have to fight against was how I looked.

I never thought I would have to defend my birth as well.

I didn’t think people would question my birthplace or tell me I didn’t deserve my citizenship.

How wrong I was.

The argument of birthright citizenship can be left for political parties to debate, but one thing is for sure: I am an American citizen by birth.

I should not be labeled as anything other than an American citizen.

My birth should not be considered anything other than two loving individuals wanting a child.

My citizenship should not be attacked or questioned.