Like many Americans, I am a citizen by the grace of my grandparents, who left their homeland to make lives here. My respect for their courage makes me wary when I hear the modern rhetoric about immigration...in particular the excpression "anchor babies". But we'll start with the grandparents.
My grandfather (on dad's side) "came over" more than once. The first time, he was alone, worked hard (as do most immigrants) saved his money, then returned to bring my grandmother and their daughter back with him. The timeline for this was between 1917, and 1919. Eventually, he and Grandmother became citizens, but their fifteen children (yes, 15!) would probably be called "anchor babies" today.
That probably doesn't occur to many of the people who use that term pejoratively, generally aiming it at a specific ethinc group. Our grandparents never contacted immigration---they just CAME...and hoped they would make the cut at Ellis Island. Some were lucky enough to have family they could connect with, but most were taking a leap of faith, that they would be accepted.
But if you do use a term like "anchor baby", you might consider sitting and down and figuring out which of YOUR relatives that might have been...in your family. Your mother or father? Your grandparents? Very few of us don't have one, tucked away in our family tree somewhere. Only we're proud of ours. Most people don't consider that the "benefits of citzenship" have always gone to the children of immigrants.
All fifteen of my aunts and uncles went to public school, at least for a while. Most of their kids did as well. All grew up to be citzens, the men fought in World War Two...and they were "taxpayers" like everyone else. But I am pretty sure none of them ever looked at my Aunt Mae...the baby my grandparents brought over with them, and thought less of her...or themselves. I wonder which of my relatives was the "anchor" of that clan?
Sort of burns, when you put it that way, doesn't it? I'll be curious to see if anyone replies to this, to explain the difference between the immigrants of 100 years ago, and today. From my point of view there isn't any. No one invited my grandparents. Grandpa John was a farmer...and this country already had plenty of those. No doubt, there were people who looked down on him, and his family. They probably thought they "bred like rats", and were offended that they couldn't speak English. They were probably angry that my Grandfather worked in a sweat shop, though they would never have taken that sort of job themselves.
But it never occured to me to look down on my grandparents. They did something most people lack the fortitude or courage to do today. They left everything they knew behind them, and with just what they could carry, came to America, to make a new life. Most of us our proud of the generation of our family that took that huge step. I felt compelled to post this because in the last few months, I've seen the term "anchor baby" a lot around the Patch.
I just thought I would remind people that most of us are not far from that expression...and that very few of us would find a warm welcome today---if we were the one's trying to get in. So when you get all riled up about "illegals", make sure you know how many links in the chain there are between you and your "anchor". Who were your people? How did they come here, and why? And unless they had a parade to honor their arrival, perhaps you might consider being more understanding about people today...who just want the same thing our grandparents did.