Birth Tourism Continues Unabated

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By Maria Fotopoulos

Maria is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow who focuses on the impacts of growth on biodiversity. Find her on Twitter | in | FB.

The writer’s views are her own.


 

April 3, 2013

We can’t really have a serious discussion about immigration reform if we’re not talking about a very peculiar form of presto citizenship conferred on newborns who are birthed on U.S. soil by mothers who are not American citizens.

The mothers may have crossed the southern U.S. border illegally from Mexico or another Latin American country (it’s estimated that a majority of illegal aliens are from Latin America) and had their babies delivered on American soil. They may also have traveled under dangerous circumstances after paying top dollar to a coyote.

Or, there are the expectant mothers who fly to the U.S. on tourist visas and also shell out a lot of cash, but for a far superior experience and one that’s for the express purpose of giving birth in America.

A recent segment on KCET’s SoCal Connected in Los Angeles spotlighted what’s come to be known as birth tourism, promoted by Websites that indicate babies born in the U.S. will be U.S. citizens. The birth tourism Websites feature travel packages that show “maternity hotels,” actually homes in typical neighborhoods. More than 100 of these birthing destinations are estimated to be in operation in L.A. County alone, according to the report. Many of these expectant moms are from China.

John Kang, an immigration attorney interviewed for the report, said that in the last 10 years this practice has “exploded.”

The women may spend $3,000 to $4,000 per month just for the housing, and they might stay as long as six months. Beyond that, there are the costs for medical care and shopping – they are, after all, tourists. The women usually are from China’s elite, families that have accumulated a good deal of wealth, so they may spend $60,000 to $100,000 in total during their stay. (One wonders if the mystery woman from China who reportedly bought a $6.5 million apartment in New York City in anticipation of her two-year-old daughter eventually attending university in the area availed herself of birth tourism.)

So at the end of the “tourism” experience, after picking up some Bulgari, Fendi and Prada on Rodeo Drive, the new moms also get to go home with a U.S. baby through the peculiarity of birthright citizenship. No European country permits this. And outside of Canada, no other economically advanced country is moronic enough to do so either.

Profiteers billing themselves as tourism operators are gaming our immigration system. The women availing themselves of these schemes are misrepresenting the purpose of their trips on their tourist visas and, as such, are violating U.S. immigration law.

The reporter deemed this issue “a drop in the bucket,” given the size of the whole immigration issue. Enough droplets, and you’ve got a bucket overflowing.

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H.R. 140: Birthright Citizenship Act of 2013 was introduced January 2013 and would acknowledge birthright citizenship, but would require that at least one parent be a citizen or national of the United States. The legislation was previously proposed in 2011.

     Use the CAPS Action Alert system to contact your representative in Congress and ask that they support H.R. 140. You can also go to Open Congress to see the text of the bill and send a letter in support of the legislation to your representative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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