I don't know if you guys have heard about this story; I just saw it myself in today's New York Times. (And for those of you who read my mailblog Instant Yang, yeah, this is kind of a recycled post. But topical!) Here's the gist: At the end of last year, Toys 'R' Us announced a heavily hyped contest to bestow a $25,000 savings bond on the first American baby born in 2007. Doctors and hospitals were encouraged to submit candidates (with the winning hospital getting a $10,000 grant to be used for prenatal education programs). But when Yuki Lin, the midnight-born daughter of two restaurant workers from Brooklyn, NY, won a draw to break a three-way tie, contest officials declared her entry invalid--because her mother is not currently a legal resident of the U.S.
The stipulation of legal residency was made in the fine print of the contest rules, and of course, Toys 'R' Us is perfectly within its rights to enforce it; most contests, though not, it seems, state lotteries, have similar legal residency requirements, though arguments have been made that the winner wasn't Mrs. Lin, but her daughter, who is undeniably a U.S. citizen. (Except to the woman whose baby ultimately was awarded the prize, who declared herself and her child "100% American" and stated that "the baby of an illegal alien is an illegal alien," even if the law says otherwise. (Heck, Mexican American U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admits that he himself may be the grandson of undocumented immigrants.)
Yuki and her parents have become something of a cause celebre among Chinese Americans, who've been circulating a petition and pointing out that voiding her victory is another sign of the U.S.'s increasingly toxic attitude towards immigrants of all backgrounds and statuses. Coming on the heels of last year's dramatic protests and abortive reform debates, one wonders how much more frequently we'll be seeing this kind of issue rear its head. Well, one doesn't wonder; one is absolutely sure that—like 70-degree days in the dead of winter—we'll be seeing a lot more of these issues arising in the near future.
Update: So, yeah, Toys 'R' Us not only backed off, they decided to provide three $25K gift cert prizes—one for each of the babies born at midnight on January 1, 2007: Yuki, born at New York Downtown Hospital in Manhattan, Yadira Esmeralda, born at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, on Long Island; and Jayden Swain of Gainesville, GA. Which, by the way, means they inadvertently scored a multicultural trifecta: Asian American, Latino, and African American. Now, if only they'd realized this and made the decision from the outset, they could have parlayed this into major New American Mainstream goodwill. As it is, this was a good, but late, save that probably still has some Chinese Americans feeling a bit ornery.