Header image: Swedish flag circa 1889 & U.S.A. flag circa 1901 [45 stars]
For years in public office, Tim Walberg has claimed that his Father, John A. Walberg was either:
- An “Anchor Baby”
- A “DACA kid”
- Or he immigrated to the U.S. from Sweden
Furthermore, Tim Walberg has also personally claimed multiple times to be a:
- “first-generation American citizen”
Public records show that all four of Walberg’s claims are false. The U.S. Census shows Tim Walberg’s Grandmother, Alma Emelia Walberg [maiden surname: Larson] did immigrate from Sweden in 1889, and became a US citizen in 1901. Tim Walberg’s Father was born in Illinois in 1907. Therefore, the terms “Anchor Baby” and “DACA” have no connection to their life stories.
Walberg’s use of the terms “Anchor Baby” and “DACA kid” regarding his father, are both callous, and contradictory.
The public entrusts Walberg to make appropriate, consequential decisions over the fate and well-being of migrants to the United States. In Congress, Tim Walberg has been lying for years about his own family’s migrant story, which betrays his role and trust as a Representative.
This report shows:
- 14 occurrences of Walberg saying his father was an Immigrant
- 5 occurrences of Walberg saying his father was an “Anchor Baby”
“Anchor Baby”: an insulting term for a child born to a non-citizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil.
DACA: [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], A contested immigration policy granting legal status to non-citizen applicants who were brought to the country undocumented as children.
1 - Tim Walberg Claiming his Father Immigrated to the U.S. like a “DACA kid”
|Walberg: “And to enhance when we don’t have American citizens who are either trained, or willing to do the work, certainly immigrants can add to that. And, you know, being a first-generation American citizen myself, with my Dad having been brought over, I guess you coulda called him a DACA kid in the past, cause he came over, brought by parents through no plan of his own, but came legally, and they went through Ellis Island, did everything right by the books back then, there was no illegality about it, but that’s what we need here in this country, but it has to be done legally. And I believe both of the bills will do that.”|
Official Death Certificate shows Tim Walberg’s Father was born in the US, not “brought over”1 - Tim Walberg referring to his Father as an “Anchor Baby”
“And she didn’t talk Swedish unless she was arguing - arguing with her Sister over theology. And she cleaned toilets and sewed dresses for rich ladies on the north shore of Chicago, but she was glad to do that, ‘cause her two Sons now had the opportunity, if they chose, to go to Northwestern University, or go to New Trier high school – never made it to Northwestern when the Depression hit, but they did achieve, and I’m thankful that they gave me a start in a free country.”
The 1920 U.S. Census [above], shows Tim Walberg’s Grandmother arrived in 1889 from Sweden, attained US Citizenship in 1901. His father was born in Illinois in 1907. So, the terms, DACA and “Anchor Baby” have no bearing on their actual citizenship statuses.
2 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “A nation like ours certainly is a melting pot. I’m a Svenska [Swede]. My father came over from Sweden, but he came over to be American. His parents did. And so, the language was something that they saw was important at that time to develop, to learn English, and Grandma never allowed us to learn Swedish. She said, ‘Ve’re Americans, ve no longer Svedes.’ Not that they rejected their heritage, but they saw America as a place that offered them all sorts of opportunities.”|
Logo for the lobby group
About U.S. ENGLISH: Tim Walberg participated in this lobby group’s video campaign with only white Congress members, including Steve King (IA-05), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), Jim Jordan (OH-04), Bob Goodlatte (VA-06), and former Congress member Tom Price (GA-06). The idea of federally mandating English raises a lot of questions. Walberg claims that his basic political platform is as a, “Constitutional Conservative”, particularly with the Bill of Rights. So, how would federally mandated English be anything but Congress putting limits and regulations on our speech? Would it not be a further assault toward the free speech of Native Americans?
3 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “The United States is a country of immigrants. I’m first-generation American. My Father, Uncle, Grandparents came over from Sweden during the height of the potato famine there. Grandma Walberg wanted the opportunity for her sons that America afforded, and while she cleaned rich people’s houses on the north shore of Chicago: Winnetka - Wilmette - Glencoe area. Sewed the clothes for the ladies there in those homes. She understood that was privileged opportunity for her. So, her sons could be in the same schools that those rich families were in. That’s America. And so, we need to find a way that immigration continues to go in this country strongly, to increase our gene pool, to bring in creativity and opportunity, provide workforce, whatever. In high tech, or in low tech, or in non-tech, whatever it is. As well as give people like my Grandmother and Grandfather, and my Father an opportunity that America affords like no other nation in the world.”|
On the Famine in Sweden (1866 – 1868):Walberg’s description of the Swedish famine was false, and conflicts with the time that his ancestors arrived. The famine in Sweden and Finland occurred in 1866-1868, and affected a lot of crops in addition to potatoes. It was about 20 years after the major famine in Ireland. The famine in Sweden was the last major famine in Europe, and caused a migration surge to the U.S. and other countries. As the Census shows, Walberg’s Grandmother immigrated a generation later in 1889. Furthermore, she was born about ten years after the famine in Sweden. Walberg’s Father and Uncle were born about 40 years after the famine in Sweden.
4 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “I doubt there are very few citizens in our country that don’t feel positive toward legal immigration. Most of us came that way. My dad came over from Sweden with his parents. I’m glad they did. But they came legally, through Ellis Island. Signed the documents, spoke our language, lived by our laws, and I’m the beneficiary of that. There are many people now who feel this is a way to change society, and a way to get special groups who will then vote for them, and take over America – change it from what it has been. Remember our President spoke truth about; and that was that he wanted to do foundational change to our country. We’re seeing that happen.”|
Walberg plunged into nativist extremist territory when he said: “…get special groups who will then vote for them, and take over America – change it from what it has been…”
Walberg has plunged into that territory before. At almost every 2010 campaign stop, Walberg mentioned a “replacement voters” conspiracy theory about Democrats. The premise of his conspiracy was that Obama wanted to pass the Dream Act to give migrants a path the citizenship. Walberg said that Dems were pushing it, not for practical or humane reasons, but rather to replenish the party’s shrinking base of voters.
Links to Walberg talking about his “Replacement Voters”Conspiracy:
· June 29, 2010 – Video (2:15 mark):
· June 30, 2010 – Video (3:30 mark):
· July 1, 2010 – Video (2:10 mark):
· July 9, 2010 – Video (4:30 mark):
· Sept. 2, 2010 – Video (4:00 mark):
Sept. 30, 2010 – Video (1:20 mark):
Walberg: “I would concur that we are a nation of immigrants, unless you are a Native American, we’ve all come here. My Father came here, came here for the American dream, came here through the right processes, signed the guest book as it were, but by the laws. And I think that’s what we need to promote again. I think we need a cooling-off period, some of this anti-immigrant, anti-refugee rhetoric that’s out there. I think we need to understand that there are laws in place right now, and red-tape in place in our immigration process, that need to be fixed. They are frustrating. They cause too much time to lapse between a person coming in having the opportunity to participate in the American idea, but our people also feel very fearful at a time of terrorist activity, we need to make sure that our borders are secure.”
On Walberg’s “Cooling-off period” remark:
· Is Walberg still calling for a, “cooling-off period”, from this rhetoric?
· Has Walberg ever specified where that anti-refugee rhetoric was coming from?
· Why only a, “cooling-off period”, instead of a permanent end to it?
· Is there ever an appropriate time for “anti-immigrant, anti-refugee” rhetoric?
6 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “We have seen just by talking about it, and the world coming to understand that this President is serious about that, a 61% reduction in the number of illegal incursions into this country since he took office. 61%. We want legal aliens. And we want legal aliens to come, and we want many of them to become citizens. Why do we want that? One of the key things of immigrants coming into this country, including my Father: They enhance the gene pool. Why do I say that they enhance the gene pool? Because most of them come with a frontier, entrepreneurial freedom spirit. They didn’t come to America because they thought it’d be a worse place than where they came from. They thought it’d be better. They thought they had more opportunity. That’s what my Dad’s parents thought. And they found a greater opportunity.”|
On Walberg’s “enhance the gene pool”remark:
I have heard the expression used in business as a metaphor for expanding creative resources. Getting more ideas to work on a problem from a variety of professional sectors to, in effect, “enhance the gene pool” of ideas for problem-solving from all different angles.
I was in attendance when Walberg said this. People gasped when Walberg said, “enhance the gene pool” in the context of immigration and building a wall, while allowing for his white, Swedish father come through to, “enhance the gene pool”. Whatever Walberg’s intentions were, it was still an extremely poor use of the expression.
7 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “I think each individual situation needs to be taken into consideration, which each country as well. I think one thing we oughta make sure is that people that come to this country provide something for this country. That’s how it’s always been. When my family came from Sweden, they came with jobs that they would give to this country, with skills. You just have to go to the Chicago skyline to see Wrigley Building and others, where my ancestors came with stone masonry work and added to that skyline in a very positive way. So that needs to continue.”|
8 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “Whatever works best: drones, electronic surveillance, cyber, fence, wall, whatever. And so, I think that is said to countries that have really pushed their people to make these decisions. And some of those, many of those people, good people who are sick and tired of the way their governments’ been treating them, have come to America, but you’ve gotta come legally. My Dad came legally, and he benefitted this country, I can tell you that. And his parents and grandparents benefitted this country.If you go to Chicago, and drive down Michigan Avenue, and you see Wrigley Building. My family was involved in building that.”|
On the construction of Chicago’s Wrigley Building:
The Wrigley Building in Chicago began construction in 1920, and was completed in May 1924. The public records from that time clearly show that Walberg’s Grandmother, and his Grandfather, Carl Walberg were not in positions to work on that construction. For clarity’s sake, Walberg could say more about which of his immigrant ancestors helped construct that building. His two closest immigrant relatives definitely did not.
9 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “No. I’m being a human being, answering a question, and - Have your own town hall meeting some time. But my parents, my people came across and they spoke English, and Grandma said, ‘We’re Americans. We no longer Svedes. God bless America.’ - Smile folks! Come on! Smile!”|
10 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
Walberg: “Where did we get to a point where we attack people who have succeeded? As opposed to saying, ‘Let’s all be given a chance to succeed!’ Let’s build that middle class which we’ve destroyed in the last eight years. The middle class is hurtin’. It’s gone away. I want more people to think beyond the minimum wage, and even the concept of a living wage, as to what I can achieve without people, especially the government, standing in my way and making choices for me that I’m not happy with. So, in America, we understand, even with our Pledge of Allegiance: equal justice and liberty for all – We ought’a espouse that.”
11 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “Our ‘Better Way’ plan had a protection of our border. Our ‘Better Way’ plan had immigration reform, that included dealing with DACA. So, I support the efforts, and we’re gonna move forward. I support on DACA. I support the fact that the President has done what Barack Obama said should’ve been done, and then ultimately, he didn’t do. He said that was a responsibility of Congress. And so, we have had that thrown back to us, and that’s the right thing. Congress oughta deal with DACA. We oughta come up with a solution to that. We oughta make sure that we have secure borders. We oughta make sure that we have people that can come to the United States legally, and benefit by all that the U.S. has to offer, and give to the United States as well, even as my father did. That’s what I support, and I believe that’s the same plan that the President has, and so we’re working together on it.”|
12 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “You’ll be happy to know, that the incursion of illegals into the United States has dropped 75% in the last almost year now. They’re getting - It’s been in the newspapers - heh, heh, fortunately, but that’s encouraging. They’re starting to get the idea that we finally have a government here that’s said enough’s enough. And they’re speaking for the people, and saying: Legals - Yes. We’ll welcome legals in this country. You have something to offer to America, like most of our ancestors that came, including my Father, offer something to America, come have it. Do it legally.”|
Note: “illegals” and “legals” are derogatory and unprofessional terms to use about people. Furthermore, those terms are not nouns to be used in the plural form. I expect better from a Congress member who advocates for making the English language federally mandated.
13 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “Historically there were boatloads of people sent back because of sickness, because of no assurance that they had anything that they could give to America. My family came over as stone masons and you can go along Michigan Avenue in Chicago right now, see the efforts, their labors, their results. And they added to. But we had people. You just have to go to Ellis Island, read the sad stories, families that were split apart because a certain member was sick with a disease that America couldn’t bring into their borders at that time, they didn’t believe that they should. And so, they were put on the boat and sent back – heart-wrenching stories that went that way. But it was done, at least perceived at that time for the best benefit of America. And that still should be the place, and it’s a difficult thing to do, but we can’t just throw the borders wide open.”|
Note:Walberg’s apparent “wide” contradiction above.
14 - Walberg Claiming that his Father Immigrated to the U.S.
|Walberg: “There will also be the ending of chain-migration and diversity visas, none of which were ever part of our immigration system before. And we want to promote an immigration system that works as it has throughout the decades and decades that citizens have come, or immigrants have come to this country in order to participate in the American dream, and ultimately become citizens like my Grandparents and Father, who came here only desiring to have the opportunity to be American.”|
Note: There is an apparent contradiction here when Walberg says that his family came to the U.S. with only a desire to be American. The previous month, he claimed that they came with stone masonry skills, and that we need immigrants with ready skills to immediately benefit the country. Walberg had also claimed in 2013 that they fled Sweden, “during the height of the potato famine”, which didn’t cohere with the historical timeline.
Other Times Walberg claimed that his Ancestors Immigrated with Skills:
· May 11, 2017 in Jackson
· May 26, 2017 in Coldwater
· January 24, 2018 in Olivet
2 - Walberg referring to his Father as an “Anchor Baby”
|Walberg: “I thank God that my Grandmother and Grandfather came over here from ‘Sveden’, and my Father was an anchor baby. No, he wasn’t, because Grandma and Grandpa came over for the liberty and the opportunity of America, and they said, ‘Ve no longer Svedes. Ve’re Americans God bless America.’|
3 - Walberg referring to his Father as an “Anchor Baby”
|“But even after that, they still knew in America you could still get up and go on even after failure. And we want, we want, as Reagan said, ‘That the gates to freedom for people who desire and yearn to be free, to be Americans, to speak our language, to honor our flag, to honor our laws, that gate to swing wide and free.’ but as I say, along with Reagan, ‘Sign the guest book, and live by our law.’ So, that has to come.”|
Excerpt of Felipe Calderón’s address to U.S. Congress (Thursday, May 20, 2010):
“My Government does not favor the breaking of the rules. I fully respect the right of any country to enact and enforce its own laws … I want to recognize the hard work and leadership of many of you in the Senate and in the House, and of President Obama, who are determined to find responsible and objective answers to this issue. I am convinced that a comprehensive immigration reform is also crucial to securing our common border. However, I strongly disagree with your recently adopted law in Arizona. It is a law that not only ignores the reality that cannot be erased by decree, but also introduces a terrible idea: using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement. And that is why I agree, I agree with President who said the new law carries a great amount of risk when core values that we all care about are breached.”
[Note: President Calderón only criticized Arizona’s law for racial profiling in that speech.]
4 - Walberg referring to his Father as an “Anchor Baby”
|“Oh, they’re far more brutal than ours, aren’t they? [Walberg smiled broadly while saying that.] So, I mean – I think American citizens – I won’t ask for a raise of hands – but I can tell ya’, my Father was an ‘anchor baby’, even though he wasn’t, but he would’a been called an ‘anchor baby’, when my Grandmother and Grandfather came over from Sweden. John Walberg came shortly after. And Grandma Walberg said many times to her two Grandsons – my Brother and myself, ‘Ve’re Americans. Ve no longer Svedes. God bless America.’ That was when we were asking her to teach us some Swedish. Didn’t speak Swedish, unless she got into a theological discussion with her Sister, then a lot of Swedish! Other than that, it was American. May’a had a ‘Svedish’ accent, but it was American. She cleaned toilets and sewed for the rich people on the north shore of Chicago. And was happy to do it.”|
5 - Walberg referring to his Father as an “Anchor Baby”
Attendee’s question: “Do you think they will stop the, what do they call it, ‘bucket babies’ or somethin’, where they come across?”
Others in the room: “Anchor babies-”
I’m not sure what point Walberg was trying to make with the 14thAmendment if not to suggest that the children of immigrants should not have the same constitutional rights as the children of slaves had. He never clarified that point.
Walberg trailed off mid-sentence to start talking about his father as an “anchor baby”, and lutfisk.
There is more to this story.
Walberg’s Grandfather is perhaps notably absent from this report. There are public records on him, but as a personal practice, I only report on things that Walberg has publicly spoken about. Since Walberg has generally only talked about his Father and Grandmother, I limited this report to them.
I am not concerned with the details of Walberg’s family past whatever is necessary to verify the truth of what Walberg had said to us on the public record.
I am not concerned with trying to define whether or not Walberg was exactly lying, or joking about referring to his Father as an, “anchor baby”. It was certainly insulting though. Walberg tended to smile and provoke laughter whenever he said it. The point is that Walberg does not take seriously the extent that so many parents and children in our country suffer in fear under the term “anchor baby”. Those parents live under the constant threat of the U.S. Government taking them far away from their own kids. Their kids live with it too. As young U.S. citizens, their parents could be permanently taken away by our government. It happens in Michigan. Congress could fix that, if they took it seriously.
The main point of this report is about the 14-and-counting times that Tim Walberg, as a member of U.S. Congress, has lied to us about his Father being an immigrant. Walberg’s lies contradict with his other lies. Walberg has told that lie at least three times this year, as recently as this summer. Such behavior from a national public office holder is insulting to all of us.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Michigan’s 7thCongressional District
This report was first published: July 20, 2018, and also updated: August 13, 2018