Thanks to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump and right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, hating "anchor babies" is all the rage.
But Phoenix nativist Michelle Dallacroce, founder and president of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens, wants you to know that she was hating on "anchor babies" before hating on them was, um, cool.
"So many people are jumping on the bandwagon, like they discovered [the issue]," she vented during a recent interview. "Nobody wanted to touch this when I was talking about it. I was the only one."
To be clear, the term "anchor babies" is both a pejorative and inaccurate. According to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all children born on U.S. soil are citizens by birth, with rare exceptions.
Indeed, there is no explicit mention of the issue of parentage in the 14th Amendment's citizenship clause, which states that:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."
These days, those not "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" might include the U.S.-born children of foreign diplomats or ministers.
Illegal immigrants and their American-born children are most definitely subject to American laws, despite the historical and logical gymnastics of those who argue otherwise. They have no "diplomatic immunity," for instance.
Nor does having a child in this country offer a realistic "anchor," since American-citizen kids cannot sponsor family members for possible green-card status until they are adults.
Which is a hell of a long time to wait for a payoff.
But what always has been seen as an extremist view of children born to parents in the U.S. illegally has found new life in the toxic rhetoric of Trump and Coulter.
Trump has made ending birthright citizenship part of his immigration plan, calling it a "magnet" for illegal immigration and insisting, the plain language of the 14th Amendment aside, that "anchor babies" are not U.S. citizens.
Coulter decries the practice in her new Hispanic-disparaging tome, Adios, America: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole, saying it's based on "a phony constitutional principle," the intellectual product of "amnesty-pushers."
Dallacroce, whose statements and activities have been denounced by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, points out that she's been talking about 14th Amendment issues since 2006, when she registered her organization with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
"Now Ann Coulter's written a book about it," she scoffs. "Maybe I should have taken out a patent."
Dallacroce, once an aspiring comedian and actress, hit a nerve back in 2006 and rode a nativist wave to infamy, appearing on Fox News numerous times until she called it quits in 2008, supposedly for a lack of funds.
But she never went away completely, appearing at nativist demonstrations here and there and in 2012 self-publishing a book critical of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's investigation into President Obama's birth certificate. This, even though she'd been an Arpaio supporter in the past and once was a member of his posse.
Now, with the rise of Trump especially, she feels "vindicated" on the one hand and overlooked on the other.
The stay-at-home mother of two claims that she has been blackballed from appearing on Fox News because of her beliefs on the 14th Amendment, which she contends Fox frowns upon. The conservative cable news outlet has become one of her favorite targets during her YouTube jeremiads.
Though she has no love for Coulter, she likes Trump and says she would vote for him if the Republican primary for president were held today.
In fact, she believes she may have had some inadvertent influence over Trump's birthright citizenship stance, since she attended Trump's July rally at the Phoenix Convention Center, where she said she introduced herself as the president of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens and gave him her card.
"Maybe he was thinking about [birthright citizenship] at that time," she concedes. "But he wasn't talking about it at his rallies."
In her latest e-mail blast, Dallacroce offers a novel take on why children born to Mexican parents illegally in the United States are not U.S. citizens.
She points out that under the Mexican constitution, a child of Mexican parentage is by rights a Mexican citizen. Therefore, these "anchor babies" are Mexican citizens in utero and cannot become American citizens.
"They're Mexican citizens before they're even born," she insists. "Of course they can be deported."
But like a lot of claims of those opposed to the dictates of 14th Amendment and the subsequent judgments of the U.S. Supreme Court, this contention dissolves under scrutiny.
Immigration attorney Johnny Sinodis of the Salvatierra Law Group in Phoenix says a U.S. citizen child born to Mexican parents easily can get a Mexican birth certificate listing their birthplace as the United States.
As a result, the child would have dual citizenship, says Sinodis.
"And the fact that they have dual citizenship does not mean that it invalidates their U.S. citizenship," he explained recently.
He pointed to the 1980 U.S. Supreme Court case Vance v. Terrazas as rejecting the notion that an American citizen born to Mexican parents somehow cancels out one citizenship with another.
Indeed, dual citizenship is allowed under American, Mexican, and international law.
Mexican attorney Hector M. de Avila González of the De Avila Law Firm works in Sacramento, California as a consultant to American lawyers on such issues and is himself a dual citizen.
"I am an American when I am in the United States," he explained when called for comment. "And I am a Mexican when I am in Mexico. It doesn't mean I can use both in a random way. There are some visa parameters."
De Avila was dismissive of Dallacroce's notions concerning dual citizenship, calling them "completely false."
Mexico, like the U.S. and most other countries of the Americas, embraces birthright citizenship.
As for kids born to Mexican parents in the U.S., the immigration status of their parents is unimportant, says De Avila, though he does not like to say they "automatically" become Mexican citizens.
"I would say they have the right to become a Mexican citizen because they are the child of Mexican parents," he says. "I don't say automatically, because it has to be recognized.
"They way you get at the recognition is . . . you go to the Mexican consulate, the parents go, and they say, `We want to let you know that our child was born in the United States. So therefore, he is a Mexican citizen too.' There's a process."
It's a process someone can follow through with at any point in life, as long as the individual can prove one parent is or was an Mexican citizen.
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SHOW ME HOW
Dallacroce is not a lawyer, though she says she worked in a law office for many years. (Hey, close enough, right?) She questions the motives of anyone who disagrees with her on the issue.
"The people who have a different opinion are these lawyers who are twisting it, because they are trying to get something for those people," she says, "those people," meaning illegal aliens.
For the present, she just wants a little recognition for blazing the way for all these nativist johnny-come-latelies.
"That's what I really hate right now," she complains. "No one is giving credit where credit is due."