Rising GOP super star Mia Love catapulted to the national stage during this year’s Republican National Convention. In her speech, love touted her immigrant background and her parents’ ability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps after coming to America with $10 in their pockets.
Despite being a child of immigrants, Love has fallen in line with her party line and has taken a hard line against illegal immigration and so-called “anchor babies” born in the country to simply to gain citizenship. But a new article from political magazine Mother Jones has raised questions about Love’s background and asserts that she just might be an “anchor baby” herself.
Love doesn’t talk about this aspect of her family’s immigration story now that she’s running for Congress, but she once said in a little-noticed interview that her birth on US soil helped bring her siblings to America. In January 2011, Love told the Deseret News that her parents, Jean Maxime and Marie Bourdeau, came to New York in the 1970s, fleeing poverty and looking for a better life. Love said that her parents immigrated legally, but were forced to leave their two young children behind in Haiti because their visa didn’t allow them to bring the kids. But, writes the Deseret News:
There was an immigration law in place, however, that would grant the entire family citizenship if Jean Maxine and Mary had a baby in America.
But there was a deadline.
The law was set to expire on Jan. 1, 1976.
On Dec. 6, 1975, with 25 days to spare, Mia was born in a Brooklyn hospital.
In no time, her older brother and sister were sent for in Haiti and the family was re-united.
Says Mia: “My parents have always told me I was a miracle and our family’s ticket to America.”
It’s an uplifting story, but there’s one problem with this account. According to immigration lawyers and US immigration officials, there doesn’t appear to have been a law of the kind described in the article that would have conferred citizenship on Love’s parents, let alone her siblings, by simply having a baby in the United States. Though American immigration law did change in 1976, it merely limited the number of immigrants from the Western Hemisphere who could obtain permanent visas. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the law since at least 1924 has barred minor children from petitioning for permanent residence status on their parents’ behalf. Love’s birth in the US couldn’t have helped to reunite her family in America, say immigration lawyers contacted by Mother Jones. And, they add, if the Bourdeaus were in the US legally on a permanent visa, they would have been able to bring the kids, according to the law at the time.
Though Love has gone on record against many of the programs that help many, including immigrants get on their feet in this country (i.e. school lunch programs and funding for special education programs), using her parents’ “bootstraps” experience as the ultimate example of making it on your own has made Love a favorite Republicans.
Faced with this new information about her background, Mia Love has declined to comment or elaborate further about her parents’ move to the U.S. And despite being heavily backed by Republicans, both in and out of her state, Love is trailing her Democratic rival by double-digit numbers.
Does Love’s background matter?