Children’s Literature

Authored by: Mary Pat Brady

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415666060
eBook ISBN: 9780203097199
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221613


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If one had any doubts about the centrality of “the child” to the current political economy, then the circulation of the term “anchor baby” and the fiery accusations about the validity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate should dispel such thoughts completely. Used by anti-immigration activists to describe the children of laborers born to a parent who does not hold US citizenship, and meant to be derogatory, “anchor baby” misleadingly suggests that a parent can easily obtain US citizenship if his or her child has been born in the United States. Of course, it comes as no surprise that the paranoia about just where Barack Obama was actually born – and thus whether he was entitled to be elected President of the United States – accompanied the very round of anti-immigrant fervor that birthed “anchor baby.” The debate flamed clearly racialized anxieties about how to prevent a man who traces his ancestry to Kenya and Kansas from being elected (or re-elected) President. By focusing on the location of his birth, opponents of Obama elliptically avoided discussing “race” while making a claim about his illegitimacy in a deeply racializing manner.

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