Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

My Mom was an anchor baby

Russell Pearce is a grandstanding xenophobe who is basking in the limelight of SB1070 and seeking to extend his 15 minutes of fame. His latest anti-immigrant legislation on his one-man crusade to white-wash the country is to “clarify” the 14th Amendment and hopefully make anchor babies illegal once and for all. Here is the text that Pearce and other right-wing extremists want clarification on:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”

Ah, Mr. Pearce, what nationality are you? I don’t think “Pearce” is a Native American name. I believe that someone in your family tree was an anchor baby (a child born in American of immigrant parents).

My Grandpa William Sprenger (at left with Grandma) was born in Germany. He came to the US as an infant in 1881 with Great Grandma Katrina and his older brother Conrad. (Great Grandpa Conrad was already working in Northern Ohio.) Grandpa married Grandma, who was born in the US,  in 1920. Between them, they had 5 anchor babies, including my Mom. When he started public school, my Uncle Raymond couldn’t speak English. He benefited from the FIRST English as a Second Language class in the US, which was created for children of German immigrants in Ohio. (Of course, thanks to people like you, Mr. Pearce, who want to keep immigrants down, that course was eventually eliminated. Also, thanks to people like you, German– my family’s native language– was not allowed to be taught in my school when I was growing up. And… the family name was Anglicized from Sprenger to Springer.)

All of the Sprengers were hard-working people; Grandpa was a blacksmith in the sandstone quarries of Northern Ohio for 60 years. Millions of Americans can recite this same story. America is populated by immigrants and their anchor babies.

Pearce now wants to stop this from happening in the future. Here is a excerpt from today’s Arizona Daily Star:

[Pearce] said one place Arizona can make its views heard would be to deny state-issued birth certificates – the necessary precursor of proof of citizenship – to children of those not in the country legally.

Lydia Guzman, president of Somos America, an immigrants rights group, said any such measure will wind up in court. “Expect plenty of lawsuits. Expect plenty of legal fees in this,” she said. “This is nothing but a political ploy for political posturing.”

Pearce said he’s not concerned. “We’ll be sued on no matter what you do by the left, who continue to refuse to accept the laws of this land or the rights of lawful, legal citizens of this country,” he said. In fact, Pearce said a legal challenge is exactly what he wants.

He said courts that have ruled in the past that citizenship can be a matter of the geography of birth have gotten it wrong. He said he believes a new lawsuit challenging an Arizona law on citizenship will have a different result.

“With this Supreme Court, we’ll win that battle,” he said, saying that’s why those who want citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants want to kill the legislation before it ever gets on the books. “They know I have a 5-4 states’ rights court.”

Pearce said he also is weighing whether to require proof of legal presence in this country before a child can be enrolled in public schools at state expense. That, too, is a direct challenge to a different Supreme Court ruling that makes such a requirement illegal.

He said lawmakers in 13 states unveiled their own plans on Tuesday to pursue legislation.

Ironically, Pearce’s campaign website quotes the Declaration of Independence right at the top, “All Men Are Created Equal. (Oh, yes, surprise, surprise, he’s running for re-election in the most lily white part of our state– Mesa.) If you want to be quintessentially disgusted by his xenophobia, check out the Birthright and 14th Amendment tabs. Pearce is like the other “strict Constitutionalists” who love to quote it when they agree with it (2nd Amendment) but want to change it when they disagree.

Mr. Pearce, what country would you be living in if this law had been created in the early 20th century? Maybe my Pilgrim ancestors (the Powers), who came here in 1637,  shouldn’t have let you in. Or maybe the Native Americans shouldn’t have let any of us in.

19 comments on “My Mom was an anchor baby

  1. Pingback: Efforts to Revoke Birthright Citizenship Move to State Level – ColorLines magazine | Law Advice

  2. BigDog
    October 20, 2010

    You quoted the 14th Amendment to which the original intent has been bastardized to justify your position on “anchor babies.”  Healthcare is being justified by the bastardization of the Commerce Clause too.

    We need to get back to the original intent of the meaning of the laws as they were written and intended to mean.

    My ancestors came here in the 1660’s.  Lot’s has changed but you can’t even begin to compare those that came centuries ago with those that come here today.

    I’ll give you a reason. Those that came here long ago only had their skills and their hands to forge and secure their future. They either succeeded or they died trying.  Too many people that come here today come for the “FREEBIES” of what they can get from the government. The government which takes by the “FORCE OF LAW” what others have earned. Too many people that come here today have NO intention of integrating into our society, knowing our language and respecting our laws.

    Before and since we became a nation, those that came here came with skills and a trade and that’s about it for the majority.

    I am all for immigrants coming here “LEGALLY” and going through the process. My wife came here from another country and earned her citizenship “LEGALLY.”

    For those that choose to do otherwise, “SEND THEM BACK.”


    • Pamela Powers
      October 20, 2010

      So, who was the anchor baby in your family tree?


      • Three Sonorans
        October 20, 2010

        When the Pilgrims came, they came here “legally” because there was no law. It’s the same demographic event either way…


    • leftfield
      October 20, 2010

      Original intent?  Are you then including the then-constitutionality of slavery and ready to exclude all the post-civil war amendments like sufferage for women?  Since the authors were long-dead at the time, they couldn’t have intended women to vote, could they?


      • leftfield
        October 20, 2010

        Pardon me -suffrage, not sufferage.


      • anonymous_coward
        October 20, 2010

        The mechanism to adapt the constitution to changing times is not to just re-interpret it as progressives do. The mechanism is call the AMENDMENT PROCESS which has been used to create the amendments you mentioned. If you want open borders, free healthcare for all, wealth redistribution then be a man and amend the constitution.  You must have an ulterior motive because I cannot think that someone who can access the internet can be so obtuse.


        • leftfield
          October 20, 2010

          The SCOTUS is there to interpret the constitution.  You or I may not agree with their interpretation, but neither of us gets a veto over the court.  If there are progressives on the court, they will interpret it as they will.  The conservatives will also interpret the constitution in light of a conservative mindset.  It will go back and forth, always.


        • Pamela Powers
          October 21, 2010

          I’m assuming that you realize a Constitutional amendment takes years to do, right? There has to be a 2/3 vote in both houses of Congress + a 3/4 vote of all state Legislatures. Congress usually puts a time limit on the Legislature vote– like 7 years. The only attempted amendment in recent history was the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s. The clock ran out before 3/4 of the state Legislatures voted to adopt it. Government would grind to a halt if we needed a Constitutional amendment for every decision. The cost per amendment — debating, lobbying, travel, public forums, etc.– would be enormous. Ironically, it is usually the small government folks who propose this lengthy, expensive bureaucratic process.


  3. andrew farley
    October 20, 2010

    Careful BigDog, you’re in dangerous waters here on Pams blog. She doesn’t understand folk like you knuckledraggers who see the 14th as your way and hers the other. Mexico has a law on their books which does not allow Americans to have a child in Mexico and granted citizenship or owning land.  Believe me, I tried to get my wife kicking and screaming, pregnant and with labour pains to get over the Nogales Port of Entry so we could own and enjoy some beach front property in Rocky Point.  But only in the U.S.A., we have the 14th amendment which allows Illegal Crossers to do just what I tried to do. Just warning you.


  4. shane
    October 20, 2010

    For those who think the 14th Amendment was solely about granting citizenship to slaves, think again. Granting citizenship to those born on American soil was established as a point of  law in the case of  United States v. Wong Kim Ark  in 1898. Wong was born in California. His parents were Chinese merchants. They eventually returned to China.  Wong visited them there. Up returning home from his second trip to visit his parents, he was denied entry to the U.S. because he was Chinese, not American – or so said immigration officials.  Not only did they claim he was not American, but they said he was specifically excluded from entry to the U.S. under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (the only immigration legislation targeting a specific racial or ethnic group). Wong hired San Francisco’s best lawyer and went to court.
    “In a 6-2 decision, the Court held that under the Fourteenth Amendment, a child born in the United States of parents of foreign descent who, at the time of the child’s birth are subjects of a foreign power but who have a permanent domicile and residence in the United States and are carrying on business in the United States, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under a foreign power, and are not members of foreign forces in hostile occupation of United States territory, becomes a citizen of the United States at the time of birth.”
    This quote is from the Wikipedia article found at:


  5. Pingback: Efforts to Revoke Birthright Citizenship Move to State Level – ColorLines magazine | FinanceLogger.com

  6. Shotgun Slade
    October 20, 2010

    Okay, I’ll bite…

    Get a grip, Pam… AS IF you just made some kind of SERIOUS point about “anchor babies”. Listen, I’m laughing… Haha! Hey, even “rednecks” have a sense of humor as much as the next guy (haha),  but get SERIOUS and quit the liberal-speak.

    America seriously needs to change what it CURRENTLY is doing about the burdens which illegal border crossers bring to our country. Anchor babies is one of the most devastating to our economy.

    Still laughing… (haha)…


  7. Ken
    October 20, 2010

    All four of my grandparents were immigrants.
    None of them had “anchor babies.”
    They immigrated through proper channels and were legal residents of the United States when their babies were born.  They all eventually became U.S. citizens, and they didn’t use their children as “anchors” to live in the United States.
    Declaring any and all babies born to immigrants “anchor babies” belies your understanding of the term.


  8. RH
    October 20, 2010

    If one wishes to hear a funny story, on Fox & Friends a Michelle Malkin speaks often on this anchor baby issue, now for the punch line her Philippino parents were in the USA on a work visa not a immigrant visa, when she was concieved and born, now what would one call her? You get one guess!:-) My ancestors came to the colonies in 1701, my mother a avid tracker of our family tree, found they were embezzler’s fleeing a axe and beheading from ye ole England! My great-great grandfather was a confederate soldier, some called them rebels, traitors etc, lots of names during that time, he deserted in 1864, tired of the war, knew they were loosing, wanted to go home, there  is a old saying if one shook ones family tree no telling what would fall out!:-) Both my great-grandmothers were full blooded cherokee, guess I could be angry at the trail of tears, claim my tribal roots and place on a reservation since only 1/16th blood line is necessary, but guess I will stay free and off the reservation! One can look at me and not see one drop of that red blood, but no doubt a DNA test would show it along with birth records, but the good thing is Pearce is full of hot air, loved only by his fellow xenophobes!:-)


  9. Shotgun Slade
    October 20, 2010

    My guess is that many of you bleeding hearts learned how to spell the words XENOPHOBE and RACIST when embellishing your SB1070 protest signs.


  10. Jim Hannley
    October 20, 2010

    Pam, thank you for the thoughtful reminder that millions of American citizens today have questionable origins in the U.S. How many millions cannot actually document the legal immigration of their forefathers? I submit that this whole “anchor baby” issue is a chimera; there is little documentation of the US INS allowing parents to remain here without documentation merely on the basis that their children were born here. The view expressed above characterizing the undocumented as welfare sops is not borne out by the research. The vast majority of undocumented workers are hard working people with strong family values; people any wise nation would like to have.


  11. Pam Speaks Bulls**t
    October 22, 2010

    The whole article is a crock of s**t…


  12. Pingback: Has the Tea Party gone off the deep end? If it has, McClung and Kelly jumped with them - Tucson Progressive

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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