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?