How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Controversial 'anchor baby' dictionary entry redefined as 'disparaging'

Photo by jollyville/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The term "anchor baby," used by some in reference to children of undocumented immigrants, is almost exclusively used in a negative light. Media pundits often use it when discussing or making their case against U.S. birthright citizenship, as in this exchange between Fox's Megyn Kelly ("...and I'm not talking about my son Yates") and Lou Dobbs, or this monologue by Glenn Beck.

But the American Heritage Dictionary recently added "anchor baby" as an entry that read as a neutral term, provoking enough criticism that the publishers agreed to modify it, with the change made online yesterday. Here's the original entry as posted on the Immigration Impact site, a project of the American Immigration Council:

anchor baby n. A child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially such a child born to parents seeking to secure eventual citizenship for themselves and often other members of their family.