Following the November elections, conservatives began to rethink their position on immigration reform, acknowledging the need to expand their voting base to include Hispanic voters. With that change, there was a shift in language by some conservative leaders away from terms that demonized undocumented immigrants. However, in the last week, former Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan used the pejorative term “anchor baby” while answering a constituent’s question during a town hall meeting.

To the anchor baby issue — they call it anchor babies – which is when a person comes, has a child here. If you’re born here, you’re a naturalized citizen. You have to change the Constitution… But it’s really treating a symptom, right? People are coming across the border illegally or overstaying their visas. And therefore illegal immigration is fairly easy, and then people are having what’s called anchor babies.

Ironically, Ryan, a leader in the Republican Party, organized the meeting to generate support for immigration reform. Presumably, he chose to use the term “anchor baby” to signal to more conservative members of his base that he had not “gone soft” on immigration.

Is the strategy of advocating for immigration reform amongst conservatives harmed or helped by the use of  language that demonizes immigrants?

What other reasons might Ryan have for relying on such loaded language?

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  • Cherand Francisco

    The words ” Anchor Baby” is offensive. Only a raciest would say this. It’s not acceptable. Calling my children names will not get votes, but it may get your face slapped.

  • Carrie Jacobs Gerber

    People that use these types of terms are just ignorant and need to be schooled. It is NOT okay! I can’t stand it when politicians play both sides depending on the audience they’re in front of. Would he have used this term in front of a crowd in Revere, MA, a largely immigrant populated community? Pick a side and stay there, at least then we know where you really stand and we know whether to support you or vote you out!

  • James Ashburn

    He’s a fool. Period. The term is offensive yet he and many Republicans cannot change. It reveals their mode of thinking about the issue. They don’t view immigration from a heartfelt, human story of the lives of individuals, but rather as a problem to be dealt with. They are only now beginning to stop obstructing immigration reform because the writing is on the wall—to remain relevant in the 21st century, you better address Latino concerns. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t have to do it.