Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Birth Tourism in the News

In the story that is making the national news, the Los Angeles Times reports on what restrictionists will no doubt characterize as the latest episode of the alleged abuse of the American rule of birthright citizenship. 

The Times reports that You Win USA, a company advertising “maternity tourism” services, for fees starting at $38,000 guides pregnant women through the process, helping a prospective foreign visitor to come to the United States on a tourist visa to await the birth of a child at a luxury Irvine apartment complex. The company instructed undercover officers to book tickets to a popular tourist destination, such as Hawaii or Las Vegas, purchase a tour package she had no intention of using and fabricate an employment history to convince immigration officials that she would not overstay her visa.  In an ironic coincidence, You Win USA had set up their operation in an apartment complex across the street from the Department of Homeland Security's Irvine field office.

Yesterday, You Win USA was one of three operations raided by federal agents targeting “maternity tourism” schemes in which pregnant Chinese women travel to the United States, usually on tourist visas, so that their children will be born U.S. citizens. The raids marked the largest federal investigation of its kind aimed at cracking down on the practice of foreign nationals traveling to the United States solely to give birth.

Agents raided apartment complexes in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties, removing boxes of documents, diaper containers, and trash, and interviewing pregnant women. Investigators said they were looking for evidence of visa fraud, conspiracy and other crimes in which women were helped to fabricate documents for visa applications and coached to falsely claim that they were traveling to the U.S. for tourism.

Federal officers allege that women were instructed to travel early in their pregnancy and wear loose clothing to avoid detection, and enter the U.S. through popular tourist destinations rather than Los Angeles, where authorities are more likely to suspect birth tourism.

Visa fraud cannot be condoned and legal channels exist to punish violations of the law.  My fear is that, in the name of ending the phenomenon of "anchor babies," the publicity given to the relatively small numbers of birth tourism instances will give political fodder to forces seeking to somehow change the Fourteenth Amendment's rule of birthright citizenship.   


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