'Anchor Baby' Phrase Has Controversial History

"It sounds like the act of having the child is not ... conceived out of love, but conceived out of benefit," Figueroa said.

Arjelia Gomez, chief operating officer for non-profit group Chicanos por la Causa, said, "the use of 'anchor babies' is derogatory and it lends itself to hate and racism."

But some who want to stop illegal immigration and lobby for more restrictive immigration policies disagree. Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform described the argument against using the term 'anchor babies' as "sort of like the issue of illegal aliens versus undocumented workers."

Mehlman said although he acknowledges some people take offense to the term, FAIR does not have a strong objection to it.

"Language does have meaning. The idea of anchor babies, at least for some people, is perfectly legitimate," Mehlman said. "They are making a special effort to come here to claim some kind of benefit."

Of course, using short phrases to invoke immediate public reaction is something politicians are known for. "It's very succinct. These are called labels of primary potency ... a term that goes straight to the gut," said Don Nilsen, a socio-linguist and professor at Arizona State University. "Conservatives are very, very good at using metaphors and defining people in their own terms, and they use it to their advantage."

But this language tactic isn't something unique to Republicans.

Crafty Labels for Proposed Legislation

Democrats, such as Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey, also use tactical language when proposing legislation. Holt's proposal, known as the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act of 2010 would boost the amount oil companies would be asked to pay for economic damages resulting from an oil spill from a $75 million cap to $10 billion. The bill's title aims to drum up public support by promising to prevent "big oil" from getting a "bailout" (words that currently have a negative connotation).

And on the subject of abortion, another hot button issue just like immigration, the liberal label 'pro-choice' stands in stark contrast with the conservative label 'pro-abortion.'

The 'anchor baby' proposal comes at a time when immigration issues have thrust Arizona onto the national stage, with its controversial and tough immigration law set to go into effect July 29.

For Jaime Figueroa, a new bill targeting children of illegal immigration strikes a personal note.

"It's sad and it's angering," Figueroa said. "It's like stabbing me in the heart when I see things like this. All we can do is just pray. Just pray for what's going on."

The "anchor baby" law's co-sponsor, Rep. John Kavanagh said eliminating automatic citizenship to children of illegal immigrants will help combat the "illegal immigration problem."

"We have not finalized the bill yet and we are not settled upon the tactic we will use to trigger a federal lawsuit that will hopefully go to the U.S. Supreme Court," Kavanagh said. "But it will probably center on the way we issue birth certificates."

ABCNews.com contributor Nathan O'Neal is a member of the Arizona State University ABC News on Campus bureau.

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