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"Anchor Babies"

What It's like Being Mixed, and Having an Immigrant Parent(s)


When you hear the term "anchor baby" what do you think of? Until recently, I didn't actually think there was such a term. The definition of an anchor baby can roughly translate to a parent, or parents, who have their children in a country in order to become a citizen.

It's incredibly common for immigrants to come to North America, have children, and become citizens themselves. 

My mother had met my dad through a friend of hers, and they became pen-pals in the 80s. After years of talking and sending pictures through letters, my dad made the decision to fly to the Philippines, propose to my mom, and get married. They did exactly that.

My mom had little trouble filling out paperwork, especially since she was married to a Caucasian American man and pregnant with his child. It was a privilege that not only her benefited from, but many others.

My parents came to America, where my mother had me, and while she didn't become a US citizen, she did become a permanent resident. A couple years after my birth, my father left her for another man, leaving her a penniless single mother.

My story is incredibly common. People come to the US looking for better opportunities for themselves, and their family. Some men, or women, go outside of the country to look for a foreign significant other because they're just that; foreign. 

In my case, while it sounds unsavory and uncomfortable, my father and his friends admitted to having "yellow-fever." Yellow fever is a term to describe someone with an Asian fetish. This person isn't with them because of who they are, but more-so, because they're Asian. 

These terms and stories are not commonly addressed in public, but rather in small gaggle of groups behind closed doors. And despite these topics being a little uncomfortable and in some cases racist, there is some truth and it does need to be more discussed because there is a lot of truth, but there's also a lot of misunderstanding.

Facing Racial Slurs

I've been called many things, some racist, some funny, some that describe who I am. Halfie is a popular term, one that I truthfully don't find offensive because it's the truth; half-Filipino and Caucasian. In Asian culture, it's popular to be called as such. I've also been called racist names, like chink. People who use derogative name calling, and racial slurs, are simply ignorant of the world around them.

There is, however, one term that hits home a little bit deeper, and a term that makes me incredibly angry; anchor baby. It doesn't hurt any less being called a chink, both terms boil my blood because of their racist connotation.

When someone says anchor baby, or refers to me and millions of others as such, it's saying that our sole purpose of being here is to make our parents citizens. It's so that they can bring their whole family here and live a happy life. 

In turn, those who agree with the term, make it the "anchor baby's fault" that our "illegal parents" came to the USA, and as such, we should be deported and have our citizenship stripped away because we're not real citizens.

The term makes it seem as if these "anchor babies" aren't really people, but tools and sponsors for their families citizenship, and tools for people to blame for immigration problems. It feels as if we're looked at as a cattle, and we need to be herded to the proper place because of our "apparent illegal status." 

It almost seems as if those who are mixed don't really have a place to go. I was born on American soil, and grew up immersed in two different cultures. I like McDonalds and Wendy's, but I also really enjoy dried fish with patis (fish sauce) and mango with bagoong (shrimp paste). I was always torn between which one to choose when there was never any need for choosing.

Both sides tend to make us feel we're not enough this, or that. Because I'm half Caucasian, I'll never be Filipino, and because I'm half Filipino, I'll never be Caucasian. It doesn't matter that I was born an American, or can understand Tagalog and then some. It's an endless cycle of tug-of-war, and because we're not really "full-anything" we're a bit displaced on both sides; a bit privileged, but still equally discriminated against.

Coming One as a Nation

The funny thing is, is that the USA was built on immigrants, and its real citizens would be the Native Americans. Our country started out based on dreams, and hopes for the future, but somehow morphed into this ugly race war where everyone needs to get deported despite the fact that our forefathers were immigrants themselves.

However, I cannot deny that there is some truth to the term. In some cases, those children are just tools for immigration status, and in those cases, it truly is saddening.

I've seen other's argue that there is no other term for "anchor baby" and that therefore term isn't offensive at all. But if we used that same argument regarding many other things, I'm pretty sure it would be a different story. This argument is mostly used by those who would love nothing better than to deport anyone with a "funny" accent and dark skin.

Personally, I don't find the term anchor baby offensive, it's what it means that makes it so offensive. Words are just words until you put the meaning to them.

The truth is, is that everyone in the world isn't coming here illegally just to have babies in order to become a US citizen, and commit crimes. To say so would be blatant fear mongering, and just a bit racist. Like my mom, many people came here legally and legally had a child born in the US. It doesn't make any sense to punish those who legally came here, and those who were legally born here, when people need to focus on those who are actually illegally in the US.

Immigration and race has always been a touchy subject no one wants to discuss in fear of being attacked, however, we can't expect to solve any problems without discussing it on all sides and all sides of arguments.

Running away and burying our past and denying current issues only puts divide between people. It prevents us from healing, and moving forward in our beliefs as a nation. 

Unity can only be achieved when people become more understanding and can openly and respectfully discuss the issues that we all face today, not by the color of our skin, immigration status, gender, or religion, but rather as loving human beings. 

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