WASHINGTON (March 15, 2011) – A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies examines the issue of the U.S. policy to grant citizenship to the children of temporary visitors.
Entitled “Birthright Citizenship for the Children of Visitors: A National Security Problem in the Making?,” the Backgrounder includes original estimates on the number of annual births to temporary visitors, whether birth tourists, students, guestworkers, or Mexican citizens with border-crossing privileges. The report suggests that this policy is a national security vulnerability and discusses how U.S.-born, but raised-abroad terrorists can (and have) used their citizenship against us.
- Nearly 200,000 children are estimated to have been born to women lawfully admitted as temporary visitors from all over the world in 2009. By comparison, according to other studies, more than 300,000 children are born each year to illegal aliens.
- Short-term visitors, including women who come as birth tourists expressly for the purpose of having a U.S.-citizen child, account for about 20 percent of these births (39,000). While most foreign tourists stay for two weeks or less, according to DHS statistics a large number of people who are admitted as tourists stay for periods of three months or more, including an estimated 780,000 women of child-bearing age.
- Another 20,000 annual births are estimated to young foreign women who are admitted as short-term residents, such as students, guestworkers, exchange visitors, investors, and other categories that allow for multiple years of U.S. residence.
- The cohort that accounts for the largest number of births to foreign visitors is Mexican women who hold Border Crossing Cards (BCCs). An estimated 130,000 births are estimated from this group of women, who have virtually unrestricted access to U.S. cities and towns in the southwest border region. Because the identities of BCC holders are not checked upon entry and the exits are not tracked, the cards frequently are used fraudulently by imposters seeking illegal entry.
Any discussion of the issue of birthright citizenship for the children of foreign visitors must consider the national security implications, including the cases of Anwar al Awlaki, the U.S.-born cleric now residing in Yemen, and Yaser Esam Hamdi, the U.S.-born enemy combatant captured in fighting in Afghanistan and released from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia in 2004. Both Al Awlaki and Hamdi were born in the United States to parents admitted as temporary residents on non-immigrant visas and were raised, and radicalized, abroad.