The phrases anchor baby and welfare queen are examples of gendered racist political rhetoric publicly used by lawmakers to marginalize vulnerable populations. In the 1980s and 1990s, the phrase welfare queen was used by lawmakers to describe poor single women who had multiple children, allegedly for the purpose of financial gain at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. The term anchor baby has been used more recently to describe the children of unauthorized immigrant women who, some lawmakers assert, come to the United States to have babies for personal gain at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. This essay explores public statements of U.S. lawmakers engaging in anchor baby discourse. By analyzing the ways that these two different but functionally similar phrases have been used by U.S. lawmakers, we gain an understanding of the use of political rhetoric in marginalizing women and families of color.

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