State Department Right to Tackle ‘Birth Tourism’

The Daily Signal | 1/23/2020 | Staff
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Lora Ries is a senior research fellow specializing in homeland security at The Heritage Foundation.

“Birth tourism” has become big business. Today, hundreds of companies advertise to pregnant women—particularly upper-middle-class women from China, Nigeria, Russia, and Turkey—offering assistance to get visas that would allow them to visit the U.S. during the time they expect to give birth.

US - Tens - Thousands - Tourists - Year

The U.S. hosts tens of thousands of “birth tourists” every year. In 2015, the Center for Immigration Studies pegged the number at 35,000. The Qianzhan Industry Research Institute reported that, in 2016, as many as 80,000 birth tourists came to the U.S. Whatever the total number, it appears to be growing.

What draws these women to our shores isn’t U.S. obstetric or natal care. It’s automatic U.S. citizenship for their babies.

Amendment - Persons - United - States - Jurisdiction

The 14th Amendment declares: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, [emphasis added] are citizens of the United States ….” The government currently interprets this as meaning that anyone born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen, regardless of the parent’s nationality or immigration status. Essentially, this reading ignores the qualifying phrase italicized above.

Many Americans have long-questioned this interpretation, which confers the benefits of citizenship on a foreigner with absolutely zero ties to the U.S. Those benefits are legion—and quite expensive.

US - Citizenship - Child - Eligible - Education

U.S. citizenship makes a child eligible for free public education and loan programs, government food assistance, Medicaid, and other welfare programs. Costs can run into the billions. Furthermore, when birth-tourist babies become adults, they may then apply for immigrant visas (green cards) for their family members, increasing chain migration.

The wealth of benefits offered by the U.S. is a major selling point for the birth tourism industry. Last January, the Justice Department unsealed indictments for 19 people involved in Chinese birth tourism schemes.

Indictments - Birthing - House

The indictments revealed that the “birthing house”...
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