Comedian Jon Stewart, the news source for many who don’t watch “traditional” news outlets, often cuts to the core of an issue as he strains current headlines through his sieve of sarcastic wit for “The Daily Show.”

Stewart made a legislator look particularly foolish recently for indicating al-Qaida could be sending pregnant women to the U.S. with the nefarious plan of then training their offspring to become terrorists.

Certainly that is ridiculous, since there never have been reports of terrorists gaming the immigration system.

Of course there were those five dozen foreign terrorists operating in the U.S. who were involved with visa or immigration fraud in the lead-up years to the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Maybe that representative isn’t so foolish, and maybe Stewart doesn’t really “get” the problem with mass illegal immigration.

It’s an inevitability that, with an illegal population possibly as high as 38 million, babies will be born — somewhere between 300,000 and 1 million annually. In some hospitals along the Texas-Mexico border, births to illegal aliens account for half or more of all babies delivered. These births cost billions of dollars in public funds, as starters. Then, there are ongoing costs for health, education and sometimes imprisonment, seemingly costs ad nauseam.

Through gross misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment, U.S.-born offspring of illegal aliens have “birthright citizenship” simply by virtue of being born here. These so-called “anchor” or “jackpot” babies are just one unintended consequence of years of immigration enforcement run amok.

On its face, before even looking at the contents of the 14th Amendment, that offspring of those in this country illegally should have automatic citizenship simply by virtue of being born here sounds illogical. Such nonsense has led to ludicrous events, including the 2006 vote by Mexico’s Congress to ask the U.S. to not deport one of Mexico’s citizens, Elvira Arellano.

An illegal alien, Arellano repeatedly broke U.S. laws and was convicted of identity theft. She produced a child while in America, and together they became the image of the New Sanctuary Movement. Between living in a Chicago church where she sought “sanctuary” and subsequently being arrested, Arellano’s “plight” was plied to tell the tragedy of family separation due to deportation.

What the Arellano story really illustrates is the creation of a creepy netherworld of illegal aliens and their “American” children that has adulterated the value of U.S. citizenship.

Then there’s the actual 14th Amendment, which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” John Eastman, former dean of the law school at Chapman University in Orange County, Calif. and current California candidate for the office of attorney general, says most people overlook the clause, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” and what the actual intent here was.

Eastman says the idea that simply being born on American soil was sufficient for citizenship status grew out of the late 1960s and has been reinforced in successive years. Prior to that, such a concept of birthright citizenship was not in the public consciousness. For instance, he references the 1950s Bracero program which brought in workers from Mexico to the U.S., noting the children born to those workers in the U.S. never were considered U.S. citizens, and when the workers returned to Mexico, they took their children with them.

The anchor baby debate and the broader mass unchecked illegal immigration debate will continue winding through public discourse, because citizens are angry and getting angrier. With 70 percent of Americans wanting to see immigration laws and our borders enforced and nearly half of the states now looking at immigration laws similar to the one Arizona passed in April, maybe Stewart should take another shot at getting to the real heart of these issues.



A Senior Writing Fellow with Santa Barbara-based CAPS (, Maria Fotopoulos writes about population-sustainability issues. Reach her at

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