Recently there has been a national discussion, of sorts, over whether or not “anchor babies,” children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States, qualify as citizens under the 14th Amendment.

While that issue specifically has been addressed here at the TAC, the more pertinent aspect of the matter isn’t whether or not anchor babies should be considered American citizens, but why the debate is even taking place at all.

A 2011 report “Welfare Use by Immigrant Households with Children A Look at Cash, Medicaid, Housing, and Food Programs” by Steven A. Camarota found that 71 percent of illegal immigrant households with children used at least one welfare program in 2009. The report also concluded that “illegal immigrants generally receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children.”

In other words, there is a financial incentive for people to illegally enter the United States give birth to children who will be considered citizens. That incentive is provided in part by unconstitutional federal welfare programs like Medicaid.

Camarota’s also report found that that “an unwillingness to work is not the reason immigrant welfare use is high,” with 95 percent of immigrant households with children having at least one worker in 2009.” Camarota blames the high welfare use on low education levels.

As the report shows, reducing and abolishing unconstitutional federal welfare programs would help remove the primary cause behind the anchor baby debate by making the matter a moot point. Additionally, it would also remove ulterior motives for immigration (legal or not) and end unnecessary bickering over immigration by ensuring those who immigrate would not become a financial burden to those already residing here.

The real cause of the anchor baby debate is not the illegal immigrants who give birth in the country to take advantage of the welfare system. They are merely a growing symptom of unconstitutional federal programs that gave rise to the welfare system in the first place.

Instead of arguing about how to bail water out of a ship when there’s a hole in the bottom, it’s time to try plugging the hole first.

TJ Martinell