Revised definition of “anchor baby”

Revised Definition of ‘Anchor Baby’ Part of Leftist Agenda, Critics Say


Published December 09, 2011

Read more: decision by the American Heritage Dictionary to revise its definition of “anchor baby” — labeling it an offensive and disparaging term — is an attempt to manipulate the “linguistic landscape” and push a leftist agenda, some opponents of illegal immigration say.

“Anchor baby” was among roughly 10,000 words — including “hoodie” and “babydaddy” — added to the dictionary’s fifth edition last month. The hot-button term, a noun, was initially defined as: “A child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially such a child born to parents seeking to secure eventual citizenship for themselves and often other members of their family.”

That definition caught the attention of Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center, who heard American Heritage Dictionary executive editor Steve Kleinedler read it during a radio interview last month. Giovagnoli blasted the definition on the organization’s blog last Friday, saying it masked the “poisonous and derogatory” nature of the term.

By Monday, the term had been changed. It is now defined as such: “Offensive  Used as a disparaging term for a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially when the child’s birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother’s or other relatives’ chances of securing eventual citizenship.”

The revision is now a “well-crafted” definition of how the term is used, Giovagnoli said.

But not everyone agrees.

“That’s a political statement and it’s not even accurate,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “[An anchor baby] is a child born to an illegal immigrant.”

Krikorian said the revised definition makes a political statement and is much more than neutral, “just the facts” reference material.

“It’s a sign of real provincialism,” he said. “I understand why people don’t like the term, but I know lots of people who use it in a non-disparaging fashion. There really isn’t a shorthand way of describing people like this, and there does need to be because it an important source of political debate: Should the children born to illegal immigrants get automatic citizenship?”

Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington-based organization that seeks to end illegal immigration, said the revised definition panders to a small but vocal group of critics who are “manipulating the political, cultural and now linguistic landscape” of the United States.

“Publishing word definitions to fit politically correct molds surrenders the language to drive an agenda,” Dane told “This dictionary becomes a textbook for the open borders lobby.”

Asked if the term has a place in the dictionary, Dane replied: “Yes, it’s a descriptive term, but what’s offensive about ‘anchor baby’ isn’t the term, but the practice of having a baby on our soil to game the system.”

Giovagnoli, for her part, is satisfied with the change.

“I have no idea what their political leanings are, but our conversations were about the precision of language,” she said. “They were very scholarly and rigorous in their response to me in their attempts to define how the word is used and interpreted.

“If anything, they realized that the issue started to generate criticism that this really was a term that was a slur, and that they made a mistake.”

In a statement to, Kleinedler said the original definition “lacked standard terminology” to indicate its offensiveness.

“This error has been rectified both in the definition and by the use of the label “offensive,” so the term is now treated similarly to how the dictionary treats a wide range of slurs,” Kleinedler’s statement read. “The editorial staff stands behind the revision.”

By comparison, the term “anchor baby” is not found in the latest online dictionary edition by Merriam-Webster. But while it is just one word among 10,000 new terms, William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration, said the revision of “anchor baby” is no small matter.

“The future of the United States is a place where you cannot speak your mind freely or engage in any terms or comments deemed inappropriate by the thought police,” Gheen said. “What’s really offensive is how these pro-illegal immigrant groups are telling people how they can talk.”

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Political Correctness Avoids Real Issues

There’s an interesting discussion going on at ALIPAC today about liberal political correctness. Liberals want to label “anchor baby” as a bad or “offensive” term in the American Heritage Dictionary.

Miller says:

“Anchor baby” was among roughly 10,000 words — including “hoodie” and “babydaddy” — added to the dictionary’s fifth edition last month. The hot-button term, a noun, was initially defined as: “A child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially such a child born to parents seeking to secure eventual citizenship for themselves and often other members of their family.”

Is this another step towards criminalizing American ideals? Trying to label our complaints as hate speech? Ignoring the American Public?

Read more here:

Rachel’s Story

For the past few months, we’ve been working to support Rachel as she prepares to self-deport. We asked her to write a guest blog post about her experience of learning that she is illegal and sharing her plans to self-deport with her family.
This Thanksgiving was the worst in my memory. I went to visit my daughter Rose and her husband Guy in Pennsylvania. He’s a lovely man. Conservative. Patriotic. They have the three most adorable children aged 6 months to 5 years old. I love them—playing with them, reading to them, just being with them. Eva, the middle one, reminds me of my mother—the silky fine blond hair, the pale blue eyes.

Still, I dreaded the event. I was almost sick with worry. My daughter and son-in-law know of course that I was born in a refugee camp at the end of WWII. My mother had survived the war and the Nazis. My father hadn’t. A very charitable family helped my mother (and me) emigrate to the United States. Entries into America were at the highest premium. Everyone wanted to come here, though many ended up taking boats to nowhere, to countries they didn’t know existed. But we were lucky. We came here. I was a baby. I don’t remember anything until I was a child in New Jersey, going to school, middle school, high school. The year I started middle school, my mother died. I was nine years old. She was so young still. Not even 40. But the war took its toll on her and she had always suffered from weak lungs. I didn’t really understand what was happening but she had some sort of pneumonia. Her best friends next door took me in. I had no family, and they became family. Aunt Marg, Uncle Jim, I called them. I was very lucky to have them in my life. Even after I married and had my daughter I went to visit them often.

So life went. We worked in a factory that made springs for sofa beds. We had a stable life. We made enough money for a little house, a nice car. Rose went to college at Rutgers and loved it. My husband George had fought in Vietnam but had put the war behind him. His sister Peg became my best friend, and almost a real sister to me after George died two years ago. Peg’s lively, full of fun and energy and curiosity. Early this year she suggested we take a tour to Europe—see some sites, have some fun. It was such a great idea—I’ve never traveled. I was excited. I started the paper work for my passport. I’d never had one. Why did I need one?

Well. I needed to fill in the forms and send in proof of citizenship. Proof? I was an American. What kind of proof? “Well, a birth certificate, for example,” said the woman from the Passport Office that I was finally able to get on the phone. “I was born in a refugee camp,” I told her. “Well then, naturalization papers,” she said. I didn’t have naturalization papers that I knew of. I promised to ask my Aunt Marg. Aunt Marg is in her eighties but sharp as a tack. “I don’t remember any papers,” she said, though she pointed me to her attic and the boxes she had inherited from my mother, still stored there after fifty years. I searched everywhere. Finally I found my mother’s naturalization papers, but not mine. I went to US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Nothing. There was no record of me. My mother, yes. Nothing about me. How could that be? I asked the clerk. “It happens,” he said. “Sometimes parents think that once they’re naturalized their kids are too. That’s not how it works.”

I was illegal. I was an alien. I couldn’t believe it. I had worked hard all my life. I had paid taxes. I had a social security number and a driver’s license. My daughter had gone to a public university. How could this have happened?

After a couple of months searching for answers, I stumbled on the Patriots for Self Deportation website. Reading the testimonials and emailing some of the members, it became clear I had to self deport and apply for naturalization and citizenship the legal way. Where would I go? I was not a citizen of any country in the world. Just as painful, I had to tell Rose. I couldn’t just call her, I had to explain this face to face. So, Thanksgiving.

I dreaded it. All the way from New Jersey to Pennsylvania on the bus I thought about how I would tell her. I couldn’t live in America illegally. I couldn’t just wait to receive my social security pension knowing I didn’t belong here. I wasn’t that kind of person. But what would this information do to my daughter? She was now the daughter of an illegal alien. Guy would explode. I couldn’t think about it. And those children, my adorable grandbabies.

I can’t even describe the looks on their faces when I told them. Rose’s face blank with incomprehension. Guy turning red on his neck, and the red spreading up his throat to his face. He ordered me to leave immediately. Rose was still blank as she watched me go. I left quietly, giving them time to think. I know this kind of shock takes time to process. All the way back to New Jersey on the bus, I cried. But I knew I had to tell them. How could I not? So now, what? I’ll leave to a place I’ve never known (How? When? With what papers?), leaving behind the only family I have in the world. Where will I live, what language will I speak, how will I support myself? Now it’s my turn to take the boat to nowhere. I will look through the Patriots for Self Deportation, looking for solutions, looking for strength. Right now, all I have are questions. That’s all I have left.

If you, like Rachel, need help self-deporting, please contact us at We have a network of mentors who have already self-deported, and they can help you make this big decision.

Emily’s testimonial