Media outlets use racist terms to describe Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship

Both terms are considered offensive and dehumanizing.

Axios this week described President Trump's decision to end birthright citizenship using racist terminology to describe the decision. Others in the media quickly followed suit. (PHOTO CREDIT: AXIOS, YOUTUBE)
Axios this week described President Trump's decision to end birthright citizenship using racist terminology to describe the decision. Others in the media quickly followed suit. (PHOTO CREDIT: AXIOS, YOUTUBE)

President Trump told Axios in an interview this week that he is planning to end birthright citizenship, a right granted to children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States.

Axios on Tuesday morning released a small portion of the interview, set to air in full on HBO Sunday, using racist terminology to describe the decision.

“This would be the most dramatic move yet in Trump’s hardline immigration campaign, this time targeting ‘anchor babies’ and ‘chain migration,'” the outlet wrote. 

Both terms are considered derogatory and offensive and have been used to describe both undocumented and documented immigrants in the past. Immigration advocates have encouraged people repeatedly against using the term “anchor babies,” as it racializes children of color and dehumanizes their parents.


The Associated Press has also advised journalists against using the term “chain migration,” noting that it is the preferred terminology of “immigration hardliners.” The AP has instead instructed journalists to use the proper phrase “family-based immigration,” which is more accurate and not offensive.

It’s unclear whether Axios was quoting the president himself or simply using the terms to describe what Trump was talking about.

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” the president claimed during the the portion of the interview made public Tuesday. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

At least 30 countries worldwide offer birthright citizenship to children born on their soil to non-citizen parents.

The president added that he would do away with birthright citizenship through executive order, though some have questioned the legality of that proposal. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution currently states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”


Axios was not the only outlet to utilize racist terminology in describing children of undocumented immigrants. Fox & Friends, the president’s favorite cable news program, as well as several conservative news contributors and journalists, echoed the phrases on social media throughout the morning.

“Apparently, on Axios on HBO, the president has announced that he plans to sign an executive order that would remove the right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens who are born here on American soil,” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said Tuesday. “Essentially, that’s what they refer to sometimes as ‘anchor babies.’ So the president, through executive order, is going to try to end that. Expect some sort of legal fight as well.”

The far-right immediately latched on to the terms, repeating them to push their own brand of hateful, racist rhetoric.

Several politicians, including Trump himself, who used both racist terms frequently along the campaign trail, have come under heavy criticism in the past, after utilizing them during public debates and forums, as well as on Capitol Hill.

Axios was accurate in describing the move to end birthright citizenship as the latest attempt to crack down on immigration more broadly. Among other things, the Trump administration has targeted those seeking asylum in the United States, illegally turning away people at the border ports of entry, and wants to aggressively limit the number of documented immigrants allowed into the country as well.


Additionally, the administration has moved to punish those legal immigrants already living in the United States, weighing a new “public charge” rule that would penalize anyone who receives public assistance, such as Section 8 housing, food stamps, or Medicaid.