Ending Anchor Babies by Executive Action

Discussion on how to end the “anchor baby” problem whereby kids born to tourists, illegal aliens, and other non-resident aliens are documented as U.S. citizens by virtue of being born in this country has focused on getting a law through Congress and signed by the president. That would set the stage, when challenged by the immigration advocacy lobby, for a Supreme Court decision on whether the current practice is required by the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment.

But, the debate over this issue prompted by Donald Trump’s immigration policy paper has provoked another view on that issue. Writing in The Hill Center for Immigration Studies staffer, John Frere, suggests that there is also an option for executive action.

baby-256857_640As much as executive action on immigration has become abused by the Obama administration to dismantle immigration law enforcement, it could work to toughen enforcement. In the area of birthright citizenship a president could instruct the executive branch to apply a definition of U.S. citizenship by birth that recognizes only those births that are to one or more U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Frere argues that this action could deny U.S. passports and SSNs to the children born to tourists, illegal aliens and other non-residents.

The application for a U.S. passport already requires the applicant to specify the names and birth places of the parents. That information coupled with immigration data on the parents would establish whether the birth of the child conformed to the new birthright policy. If this were done, it would immediately impact the birth tourism industry, because the purpose of it is to gain a U.S. passport for the baby before returning home. It would have less impact on illegal aliens, because they generally have no short-term intention of traveling home and, therefore, are less likely to apply for a passport for the child.

The issue of curtailing the issuance of an SSN to newborns would be more complicated. The process now starts in hospitals for newborns. The information on the application for an SSN does not require the same information about parents as does the passport application. This means that a new form would be required and a new capability would have to be created in SSA – or farmed out to another agency – to vet the status of the parents and whether they met the new criteria for automatic citizenship for the newborn.

The most important benefit of executive action on the anchor baby issue would be that even if it were confined to the issuance of passports, it surely would provoke a lawsuit challenging the new policy in the same way as would passage of a law. That means that opponents in Congress could not prevent the issue coming before the courts.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    Good article. But if you start this war with the 14th amendment fight you will lose. You will be creating a conservative “War on Babies”. and you KNOW how the liberal media will suck that one up! The best way to do this is 1) ENFORCE EXISTING LAWS. 2) Actually BUILD the fuc@king fence already. 3) MANDATORY E-VERIFY. 4) MANDATORY SS numbers for income tax (no more bogus EIN numbers).5) Educate only American citizens. 6) Crack down on Visa scams. If you simply take away all the magnets and all the protections we stupidly give them, they WILL go home….by attrition….and they will think twice about sneaking back in.

  2. avatar

    When the 14th Amendment was passed and ratified, it was the clear intention of that measure to secure the status of
    citizen to the freedmen (former black slaves) and to obliterate the infamous CJ Taney’s “Dred Scott Decision.” Those
    making the case for ending birthright citizenship today should emphasize this intention by the Supreme Court and Congress ruling during the late 1860s of exclusive benefit to former slaves. No foreigners were even contemplated by the Supreme Court of that time, and this tradition should be stressed.

    Note also that nearly all European countries have no allowance for “birthright citizenship,” and the ones who used to have eliminated it. Their prudence and foresight is lacking in contemporary America, and unless “birthright citizenship” ends here we will pay dearly.

  3. avatar

    I feel that we have gone to far with allowing illegal aliens to stay in this country. Our country is saturated with outsiders. We pay for their healthcare, education and shelter. It is a hurting feeling when you see Americans who are homeless and out of work and you look around and the Hispanics/Mexicans are living better than the Americans. They are driving expensive cars and Blacks and whites do not know where they will have their next meal. I’ve walked down the street in several cities and I see many blacks and white Americans living on the street. But you do not see foreigners on the street nor do you see them hungry. Something is very wrong with this picture. How did this happen. They have all the jobs and the American people are unemployed in high numbers. You have children foreign children taken up seats in the school system with our taxpayer dollars and they do not understand English. Now you have to pay for translators. This is a burden on the Boards of Education. We have been sleeping for a long time now we are paying for it.

    • avatar

      It is often stated by enablers, including Obamistas, that illegal aliens will have to “pay a tax” (LOL), and learn English. This latter will go by the board almost immediately. Who is going to examine and grade language proficiency? And, why learn English since signs, labels, instructions, etc. are all printed in both English and Spanish. Para escuchar en espanol marque numero dos (2) en su telefono.

  4. avatar

    Catholics from former Spanish colonies don’t believe in birth control. Knowing they can’t afford to feed one have 7 and ignore their own responsibility to feed their own children. El Popo is planning a visit to the US where he will try to tell everybody what a good deal this all is when it is not. Just wait. When he arrives he will try to convince you that “you” have a moral obligation to feed them all when you don’t. If you let them in they will breed like rabbits until they overwhelm in sheer numbers. TV and the Internet have awaken these people to the fact you live in a house, have indoor plumbing, a stove and refrigerator. They want that too but having no money to buy will have to take it by force, which they will.

    • avatar

      and what kind of breed rabbit do you come from?…..I believe you deserve the same treatment as your speech.

  5. avatar

    A Grandfathered Anchor Baby When All Future Ones are Banned?

    Good question, but since this was when we let the open border pundits lead us all astray, perhaps we should just let the Supreme Court hammer out a plan…..it doesn’t sound like accepting birth right citizenship will be deemed by this court as Constitutional….we may have to swallow the glass because of the stupidity and pig-headedness of the open border pundits who brainwashed us all on the interpretation of the 14th Amendment.

    Perhaps a good-bye to Michelle?

  6. avatar

    I hate to say this but I suspect we couldn’t do it retroactively. We could enact laws that would prevent collection of social benefits unless both parents were citizens or legal immigrants, though.

    • avatar
      11th Gen American on

      Congress could pass that law. What’s more, they better do it because the American people are fed up. We’re forking out $348 BILLION per year supporting illegal aliens, and tens of thousands of them are Muslims who have entered the country illegally! We should also deny free public education for the offspring of illegals because that’s $10,000 per head at taxpayer expense! Canada doesn’t allow non-citizens to get education in their country for free! They have to pay to educate their own kids! That means even legal immigrants have to pay their own way! That’s at it should be because otherwise foreigners will almost always breed like rats on the public dole! That’s the best form of population control there is, keeping a country from having their demographics turned upside down as Obama is trying to do!

  7. avatar

    If they did that, they should do it retroactively…….who would be left?…….definitely Michelle Malkin is out of luck then….wouldn’t she?