First the good news! American OB/GYN's are winning the War On Terror! Turns out there aren't waves of jihadi women sneaking across the border to have their Terror Babies in the US, so they can take them home to Jihadistan, only to ship them back 25 years from now to wreak their terrorist havoc on the country after all. Never have been, FBI's never heard of it, much less leaked the bogus story about it.
No, all those pregnant brown women and their sneak & deliver [it's the new duck & cover!] Anchor Babies are good, old-fashioned Hispanic folk, unauthorized immigrants from Mexico and parts South, just like they've always been.
Keep that last phrase in mind, because the Pew Hispanic Center just released a conveniently timed, context-free
bottle of gasoline new report that estimates the number of babies born to unauthorized immigrants in the US in 2008 was WHOA! 1 in 12! 340,000 of the 4.3 million live births that year. Which looks more like 1 in 13 to me, but whatever.
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[Is that right? Pew, a non-partisan research group, goes into great detail about their methodology, at least as far as estimating immigration status. They say there's around 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants in the US, 4.1 million of whom are women. Whether they have kids or not, a full half of UIs [sometimes Daddy tires of typing] and a whopping 83% of UI women live with a spouse or partner. This is more than double the household rate [21%] for US-born adults, with age and lifestage differences accounting for most of the differences. 80% of the kids (under 18yo) in UI households are American-born citizens, by the way.
Fertility rates used in the estimate are apparently based on these same demographic variations (i.e., the UI population is much younger than either authorized immigrants or US born populations. Hispanics and non-US born immigrants both have above average fertility rates.) but there is no data to evaluate unauthorized vs legal immigrant populations.
According to the CDC's National Vital Statistics Survey for 2007 , there were just over 1 million live Hispanic/Latino births in the US. 2007 looks a lot like 2006, so if it looked like 2008, that'd mean almost one third of Hispanic births in the US in 2008 had at least one UI parent. That sounds awfully high to me. (Actually, if Hispanics make up 75% of the UI population, does that mean the Anchor Baby Panic should only be over 255,000 kids? Or does that just mean there are 85,000 potential Terror Babies? I guess it depends on whether you see the jingoist white head half full or half empty.) Anyway. A three paragraph parenthetical is too much, even for me.]
So now Pew estimates that 7.9% of newborns have at least one UI parent. But in 2009, pre-ABP, Pew's Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the US [pdf] estimated that nationwide, 6.8% of kids K-12 had a UI parent, with that rate climbing to 10% or more in five states.
But think for a second where that 6.8% of older kids came from: they were born in the US 6-18 years ago and have been living in the country of their birth ever since. How does that compare to the 8% estimate for newborns in 2008? Is it a 1.1 point uptick [OR a 16% spike!] in Anchor Babies from 2003, or is it not even close to CA and TX?
Actually, we have to say it's basically the same. First, this was the first time Pew had made UI estimates about the kid population. And because they're doing a survey, they warn repeatedly that no conclusions can be drawn on differences within the methodology's margin of error. And then how does 2008 compare to 2009 or 2010? With both unemployment and deportations up, the UI population may actually be down. If there's a direction at all in this American-with-UI-parents "trend," it's most likely down.
So if this crisis [sic] is actually the same situation that has been around for years, what has changed to warrant the current debate [sic]? The recession? ICE's structural shift pushing border crossings into Arizona? The election of a brown president? Pew's context-free data snapshot does absolutely nothing to explain what's going on.
And while the report claims not to "address the merits of the birthright citizenship debate," its leadoff finding--the number of babies born to unauthorized immigrants--seems a little to neatly tailored to pundits and demagogues, who can now add a number on their dehumanizing rhetoric about "illegal aliens" and "anchor babies."
Which will no doubt drown out the reality that this one-sided debate is about the fate of several million American children and their families.
Unauthorized Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born [i.e., American, -ed.] Children [pewhispanic.org via wsj, via @jodikantor]