Anchor baby is a pejorative term used to refer to a child born in the United States to illegal aliens or other non-citizens. Such a child is legally a citizen of the United States. The term refers to a resident alien's child's role in facilitating "chain migration" under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965. Immigration reductionists claim that the baby would become the "anchor" of a chain by which its family may receive benefits from social programs and by which the parents may themselves eventually become lawful permanent residents or citizens of the United States.
A US-born child cannot in fact sponsor his/her parents for legal immigration to the United States until he/she becomes an adult, and illegal immigrant parents do not gain any additional legal rights based solely on the fact that they have had a child born in the US. However, illegal immigrant parents of US-born children often avoid deportation by immigration judges because they are the biological parents of minors, who have every right to be in the US as citizens. Deporting the illegal parents of US-born children causes the legal breakup of families, and judges are often unwilling to do this until the child is an adult, at which time the child can apply to sponsor their foreign-born parents for US citizenship.
The term "anchor babies" is also used to refer to children born to women who are legally in the US on temporary visas (for example a visitor’s visa) when the child's birth is specifically intended to obtain citizenship for the child under US law; however, this is more precisely described as birth tourism. Sometimes the term jackpot baby is used interchangeably with the term anchor baby. This use is also pejorative.
Main article: Birthright citizenship in the United States of America
Under current United States federal law and most interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,which was ratified in 1868, to assure citizenship to freed slaves and their descendants. The majority of American born, tribal indians continued to live legally within the borders of the nation, as non-U.S. citizens, until legislation changed their status in 1924, under the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 Any other individual born within the United States (except for a child of foreign diplomats) have long been considered a citizen of the United States, regardless of the legal status or citizenship of that individual’s mother or father.