Anchor Baby \ANG-ker-BEY-bee\ , noun;
1. 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.
According to a New York Times article published yesterday, this was the original definition to the newly added anchor baby entry in the American Heritage Dictionary. It was one of 10,000 new words added to the dictionary's 5th edition, published in November. Shortly after releasing the latest edition, the executive director read this definition during a radio interview. Then, all hell broke loose. Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center, posted an angry article on the center's blog that said the definition glossed over the derogatory nature of the term. The post quickly spread all over the internet. Wisely, the American Heritage Dictionary people responded to the outrage by re-defining the term as offensive. The updated definition, released Monday, is:
1. Offensive: Used as a disparaging term for a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially when the child's birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother's or other relatives' chances of securing eventual citizenship.
For the record, the term anchor baby goes back to at least the 1980's and during that time period referred to Vietnamese immigrants. Now it is technically used for immigrants from any country, though it usually refers Mexicans and Latin Americans.