Tony Blair in an address to British ambassadors who had congregated in London said:

“A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in.. And how many want out.”

Blair was not the first person to make such a remark about the attraction that the US holds for millions of people all over the world. George Will, the political commentator, in 1992 said something similar regarding how the US is a magnet for people all over the world.

Blair who clearly had an admiration for the US and Americans when he addressed Congress in 2003 said:

“But, members of Congress, don’t ever apologize for your values.

Tell the world why you’re proud of America. Tell them when the Star-Spangled Banner starts, Americans get to their feet, Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Central Europeans, East Europeans, Jews, Muslims, white, Asian, black, those who go back to the early settlers and those whose English is the same as some New York cab drivers I’ve dealt with, but whose sons and daughters could run for this Congress.

Tell them why Americans, one and all, stand upright and respectful. Not because some state official told them to, but because whatever race, color, class or creed they are, being American means being free. That’s why they’re proud.”

For those not born in the US, there is a pathway to citizenship for immigrants ……. and most immigrants to the US when they become citizens find themselves almost emotional about the experience. My younger brother when he became a citizen, visited us with his wife on the way back from the ceremony. He said he wanted to come over out of sense of gratitude and obligation since I was the one who sponsored him and his family and enabled them to come to the US as immigrants.

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Video of immigrants becoming US citizens

All of this came to mind today when there was a report on the national news that the Chinese were increasingly using the “anchor baby” provision in the US constitution to give birth to children in the US. Until now having anchor babies was very much a Central American phenomenon and mothers, especially from Mexico, would come to the US, often illegally, to give birth to their children in the US. In so doing, the child becomes a US citizen and has the right to enter the US at any time in the future.

The fact that this happens among Central Americans is understandable given the economic disparities between those nations and the US but the fact that the Chinese are doing the same thing is remarkable considering the widely held view that the Chinese economy will equal or surpass that of the US in the next 50 years. The Chinese coming to give birth to their children in the US is a more recent phenomenon and it is the more affluent Chinese who are doing this.

It is a perfectly legal arrangement because the parents come as tourists, give birth to the baby here and after obtaining a birth certificate they return to China!

NBC news reported:

“A U.S. study found that an estimated 340,000 of 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 – or every 1 in 15 – had an illegal-immigrant parent.

While much of the debate – and a healthy dose of vitriol – was focused on immigrants of Hispanic background, stories of upper-class Chinese women flying to the United States in style and staying at private clinics to have their babies to take advantage of citizenship laws soon began to appear in the news cycle.

With them, a new breed of anchor baby was born, and their very existence changed the dynamics of the controversy completely.

While Hispanic anchor babies might be stereotypically viewed as coming from poverty and consequently destined to be heavily reliant on government social services, the parents of Chinese anchor babies were wealthy Chinese who legally paid their own way to the United States, freely spent money at American stores, and generally intended to return back to China soon after giving birth.

Just how many Chinese mothers have come over to the United States remains unclear. One report, though, cited an agency that claims it has helped over 600 mothers travel to the U.S. to have their children in the last five years.
The motivations of these families are far-ranging: from a desire to provide better educational and travel opportunities to their children in an increasingly competitive and international job market, to a clever way to skirt China’s one-child policy, to a desire to one day enjoy the American lifestyle and all the benefits – both social and economic – that entails.

Whatever their motivation, the machinations behind the process were always clear: for approximately $15,000, Chinese mothers were navigated through the process of applying for an American visa, including how to fill out forms and how to approach interviews given at American embassies by visa officers.

Once in America – mostly in cities on the West Coast but sometimes U.S. territories like Saipan – the mothers were given two months of prenatal care and a month of medical support post-birth. Throughout the three months, the mothers were given room and board and scheduled activities such as shopping trips at local malls or walks around the clinic for exercise.

Though many of these clinics operate without a proper business license, throughout their time in the U.S., the women were safe in knowing that everything they had done from the initial visa process that gained them entry to the United States to later applying for citizenship for their newborn was legal and fully protected under current U.S. law.”

The US has its fair share of problems but despite all of the attempts especially among some of America’s detractors suggesting that it is a country in decline, the reality is that for much of the world, as Blair pointed out, the US remains a beacon of hope and opporunity.

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