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Terror Babies Latest GOP Scare Tactic

Terror Babies Latest GOP Scare Tactic

If Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is to be believed, one of the greatest threats facing this country right now are babies.  Terror babies.  Oh sure, they may look cute and innocent now but they were birthed in this country with a singular purpose–to automatically become U.S. citizens and, after they’ve grown, return from terror baby training to blow us all up.

I wish I was kidding.

Rep. Gohmert’s claims have been making the rounds, uncontested naturally, on Fox News as part of the right’s move to amend or repeal birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment.  And Rep. Gohmert is not the only Texas politician making this claim.  Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-TX) recently appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s show and argued that pregnant foreign women are having babies in the U.S. with the “nefarious purpose of turning them into little terrorists, who will then come back to the U.S. and do us harm.”  Both Rep. Gohmert and Rep. Riddle refuse to back away from these inflamatory claims, even though the FBI has gone on record, repeatedly, and called these allegations absurd.

Why should they when their racism makes such good politics right now for the GOP and when the media, and Democrats, have done such a poor job pushing back against this offensive narrative?  The “terror baby” meme reflects the conjoining of the worst of the GOP’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant streaks and simply refuses to back down in the face of fact and reason.

Snark and cynicism aside, let’s take a moment to break down some of these claims, including their origins in the massively offensive “anchor baby” theme.

Birth Tourism is a Fallacy

Since 9/11 travelers from most parts of the world who want to come to the U.S. on a tourist visa have to undergo a rigorous process just to obtain permission to enter the country.  That process includes providing evidence of the purpose of the trip, submitting fingerprints and photographs, and undergoing an interview by a visa officer at the US Embassy before any tourist visa is granted.  The process for getting a green card is even more stringent.  Aside from conjecture, those that push this talking point have offered nothing in the way of evidence to support this claim that pregnant women, particularly pregnant women from the Middle East, are traveling to this country for the sole purpose of birthing.

“Anchor Babies” Will Give Their Undocumented Parents Lawful Immigration Status

Despite the fact that this talking point is very easily dismissed, somewhere along the line it has refused to die.  The reality is that no immigration benefit can accrue to the parent of a child born on U.S. soil for at least 21 years, and more typically 31 years.  That means that a child must turn 21 before he or she can sponsor anyone for permanent resident.  Usually the parent will have to have lived outside the country for at least a 10-year period before becoming a permanent resident because of their unlawful status.

Undocumented Immigrants are Flooding the Border to Birth

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, about 8 percent of all children born in the United States had one or both parents as unauthorized immigrants.  Sounds alarming, right?  What the report also shows, and what has not received the same attention as that 8 percent number, is that the pace of unauthorized arrivals accelerated at the end of the 1990s and the early years of the 2000s.  Those children that were born here were more likely to be born to parents who had been in this country for at least 5 years and not, like the talking points suggest, “dropped” over the border by their pregnant, undocumented mother.

The attacks on immigrant women and their children are petty and political.  The attacks on the 14th Amendment are at this point well beyond political and quite simply pathetic.  Conservatives used to embrace the notion of American exceptionalism, enshrined in the 14th Amendment and in our country’s unique approach to birthright citizenship, as a principle that allowed our country to rise above all others and lead as a democratic beacon.  At one point that very notion drove Republican efforts to overhaul this country’s immigration laws–an overhaul that is desperately needed but unfortunately cannot happen because the rhetoric has become so infected with grotesque displays of racism that any honest policy debate is, for the time being at least, simply impossible.  Until that persistent and pernicious racist narrative can be exorcised from the GOP platform meaningful immigration reform is, I believe, dead.  And we are all worse off because of it. 

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photo courtesy of the photostrand via Flickr

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186 comments

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8:02AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

It is amazing how much we could accomplish if people would stick to actual facts. While I support free speech, I detest the manipulation of information and emotions for political or even religious gain. Immigration is one of those areas where faux-facts flow freely.

One specific absurdity I hear over and over again is the one about taxes and illegal immigrants. I have yet to figure out how anyone spends 24-hours in America and escapes paying taxes of some kind, if they spend money. While there are five states without a state sales tax, all states have taxes of one more types. Some where along the line the cost of taxes are incorporated into the price of an item being sold. If they are working, they pay some form of tax to some level of government; unless of course the employer is cheating.

7:59AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

It is amazing how much we could accomplish if people would stick to actual facts. While I support free speech, I detest the manipulation of information and emotions for political or even religious gain. Immigration is one of those areas where faux-facts flow freely.

One specific absurdity I hear over and over again is the one about taxes and illegal immigrants. I have yet to figure out how anyone spends 24-hours in America and escapes paying taxes of some kind, if they spend money. While there are five states without a state sales tax, all states have taxes of one more types. Some where along the line the cost of taxes are incorporated into the price of an item being sold. If they are working, they pay some form of tax to some level of government; unless of course the employer is cheating.

7:07PM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

Frank S. If I was Rep Louie Gohmert, I would take extra precautions at night, just in case a terror baby manages to get by his alarm system. Can you not see the look of sheer terror upon his face if all of a sudden he wakes in the middle of the night? Only to see a terror baby sitting upon his chest, red eyes glowing, mouth slobbering, with a wicked smile upon his face. The baby fully armed, and about to hit him on the head with a baby rattle? I think I’ll sleep with the light on tonight, and listen for the sound of anyone crawling around my bed. Maybe I should also put a lock on the fridge, just in case? Oh, but wait, I forgot that I stopped drinking milk a long time ago. When I first heard that terror babies loved to raid refrigerators at night!

1:13AM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

Please tell me you can't be serious?

5:16PM PDT on Aug 29, 2010

I understand Rep. Gohmert's frustration, but the points in the article are correct. Whether it's a terror or an anchor baby, they really can't help their parents gain any sort of citizenship.

I'm equally frustrated that the media is claiming Gohmert's views equate those of all Republicans. I'm /very/ Republican, and while anchor/terror babies might have a negative effect on the economy in some areas in the nation (mainly anchor babies living in border towns), according the the 14th Amendment, they're quite legal. Really, the media needs to stop making all Republicans sound nutty.

Still, in all fairness, women in the country illegally that have children here are not exactly in the right either. They are here illegally, and their birthing children in this country does not make that okay.

12:07PM PDT on Aug 23, 2010

This whole ideas of terror babies is improvable, which is why Rep. Gohmert is using it to scare people. I do agree that illegal immigration has to stop, mainly for the reason that they aren't paying taxes and therefore are getting a free ride. But let's stop this hysteria. It reminds me of the Salem Witch Trials. Making up a problem you can't prove so that you can prosecute.

8:05AM PDT on Aug 19, 2010

Unbelievable.

12:40AM PDT on Aug 19, 2010

What did Mario Scorcese say? Wasn't it like: 'America is based on crime'?
It certainly consists of immigrants only for most of the natives have been slaughtered by the same.
Terrorists à la Americaine.

1:14PM PDT on Aug 18, 2010

"not every republican is bigot but every bigot is a republican"

9:35AM PDT on Aug 18, 2010

"On his daily radio and television shows last week, Fox News personality Glenn Beck set out to convince his audience that "social justice," the term many Christian churches use to describe their efforts to address poverty and human rights, is a "code word" for communism and Nazism. Beck urged Christians to discuss the term with their priests and to leave their churches if leaders would not reconsider their emphasis on social justice."- The Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/08/glenn-beck-leave-churches_n_490060.html

Now, Glen Beck wants the Church which the Lord of Love established here on earth to spread mercy, assistance, and his unconditional love to the poor and downtrodden.To turn their backs on human rights and social justice!

This is blatantly unchristian, and reeks of hypocrisy and bigotry. By doing this, he is not only showing the fangs of the right-wing, but also insulting every true Christian!

I wonder if someday some nut case , may actually believe his hate speech, and then go out and tries to kill innocent children?

""I like to scare people. I enjoy watching people beg for their life. I like watching them drown. When they take their last breath, oh it's amazing." - Patrick Gray Sharp/McKinney shooter.

"She said, Sharp often told her about his desire to kill people, especially children. She said she always thought he was joking."- The Dallas Morning News

The right-wing radio spin jockeys hate speech are certainly no

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