12 August 2010


I've started reading StrollerDerby on regular basis because, well, I have a lot of spare time and one can only sew so many little birds and paint so many bathrooms while home. Also, technically, because I am supposed to be off my feet as much as possible, so that means blogs, books, and papers. The post I read today linked to a ParentDish article on children of illegal immigrants and the vehemence against them. I generally try to avoid politics at all costs; my husband is the political one who has Opinions! on Current!Issues. Honestly, though, this is an issue that has always needled me and I could never figure out why until reading this article. Then, it occurred to me. My grandmother, Erzebet, would be considered an anchor baby by a lot of these people, making my father and myself one of these undesirables.

My grandmother was born in New Jersey in the early teens. This was pre-World War I, from what I can gather, and her family was fairly well off. I am not sure exactly why my family was here, but she was born and then my great-grandparents went back to Hungary when she was old enough to travel, a citizen of both countries.

Years later, my father was born somewhere in part of Hungary that had mutable borders, in a small house with a dirt floor (as he tells it). No doctor, just the local midwife. He automatically gained citizenship to both countries because Grandma was already a citizen of American and Grandpa was a Hungarian citizen. After World War II and Grandpa's stint in the resistance, they opted to emigrate to New Jersey rather than stay in post-War Europe.

They did, indeed, go through Ellis Island, though only Grandpa is listed as an immigrant, supposedly, and settled in New Jersey.

My grandparents never learnt more than a few phrases in English in the 30+ years they were here. They relied on my father and uncle to translate for them and they only spoke Magyar in the home. As a child, I learnt enough of it so I could communicate with them.

I technically hold dual citizenship still, through my father and I wonder if this makes me one of the generations of illegals who are "infiltrating" the country. I think this is what bothers me so much about this witchhunt: how do you define illegal? How do you define an anchor baby and what happens after?

I wonder what consequences these proposed laws would hold for people like me? Can you take citizenship away because there was some shady business a couple generations back? I am an American citizen, but I am also the first generation child of an immigrant.

What are your thoughts? Anyone else out there in a similar situation?


  1. wait I'm confused - what's the other country for which you have citizenship?

  2. I'm a Hungarian citizen as well.