Rep. Virgil Goode repeatedly used the derogatory term “anchor babies” during a Wednesday debate.

Last week, the habitually offensive Representative Virgil Goode (R-VA) callously attacked the US-born children of immigrants.  Goode repeatedly used the term “anchor baby,” a notoriously derogatory term employed by anti-immigrant organizations and restrictionists to describe the children of non-citizens who were born in the US and therefore “facilitate” immigration through family reunification under the longstanding provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

In his attack, Goode claimed:

Only those who want to coddle and cater to the illegals say that they are beneficial to the workforce…And I gave you one very specific: the anchor baby. Which means you come over in this country, have a kid, and the kid’s an automatic citizen. A huge cost.

Yet Goode’s analysis is naive, simplistic and plainly misinformed.  Aside from using dehumanizing rhetoric to suggest the government should repeal the 14th amendment which provides for natural-born citizenship, Rep. Goode overlooks the national benefits of family-based immigration:

  • The incomes of family-based immigrants tend to grow more rapidly than the incomes of employment-based immigrants. In fact, the incomes of the two groups tend to equalize over time.
  • Family-based immigrants possess human-capital skills from their home countries which prove highly useful in helping them to navigate the U.S. labor market, learn English, etc.
  • Family-based immigrants often contribute to the U.S. economy as entrepreneurs. Immigrants, especially family-based immigrants, have played a key role in reversing the decline in self-employment in the non-farm sector of the U.S. economy over the past three decades.
  • Broad family linkages provide immigrants with the “social capital” to pool financial resources and to start and manage a wide range of small- and medium-sized businesses that would otherwise not be economically viable.
  • Immigrant-owned family businesses are a driving force behind inner-city revitalization and job growth in nearly every major metropolis, from New York and Miami to Chicago and Los Angeles.
  • Family-based networks are a major “protective” factor that reduces the exposure of family members to, and helps them deal more effectively with, a wide range of health and social problems, from asthma, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy to suicide and gang violence.
  • The health status and academic achievement of foreign-born children is equal to or greater than that of children in native-born families-despite the greater exposure of children in immigrant families to socioeconomic risks, racial/ethnic discrimination, and other psychological factors that tend to produce negative outcomes for children generally.
  • A recent study found that 60 percent of the top science students in the United States and 65 percent of the top math students are the children of immigrants, many of them foreign-born. In addition, foreign-born high-school students regularly win between 25 percent and 50 percent of the most prestigious awards for young scientists and mathematicians in the United States.

Opponents of family-based immigration vastly underestimate the numerous social and economic benefits of the family-based admissions system for both immigrants and the native-born. The United States derives the greatest economic and social benefits from immigration when the employment-based and family-based systems are functioning together in a well-balanced fashion.