Rep. Paul Ryan referred to immigrant children as "anchor babies" during a town hall meeting in his home state of Wisconsin.
"To the anchor baby issue which is when a person comes, has a child here," Ryan said. "If you're born here, you're a naturalized citizen. You have to change the Constitution. But it's really treating a symptom, right? People are coming across the border illegally or overstaying their visas. And therefore illegal immigration is fairly easy, and then people are having what's called anchor babies."
The American Heritage dictionary defines the term as 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," the definition begins. "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."
More than 7,000 people have signed an online petition demanding an apology from Ryan.
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