Birth Tourism is a practice deemed illegal by many countries, where a woman travels to a specific country with intentions of giving birth. The child, when born, is eligible for birthright citizenship and subsequently gains certain benefits of that country. The benefits include access to public schooling, healthcare and sponsorship for the parents in the future. Multiple countries have taken various measures in order to prevent birth tourism starting with pressuring airlines to check pregnant women before they board their flights to modifying their citizenship laws. Earlier this month, a 25-year-old Japanese woman was forced to take a pregnancy test before her flight to Saipan, a US island in the Pacific Ocean.
The Trump administration plans to bring an end to birth tourism in USA by making changes to the US visa guidelines. Once passed, this rule will prevent foreigners from taking advantage of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees birthright citizenship to anyone born in the country. A State Department official stated, “This change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry.” Moreover, this rule is also believed to be a part of the US President Donald Trump’s stringent measures to intensify the evaluating process for visas.
Trump’s new visa policy to curb birth tourism in USA, will alter the requirements for B visas aka visitor visas and enable the State Department officials the authority to deny foreigners the short-term business and tourist visas to USA if they believe the person is trying to take advantage of the process with intentions of gaining automatic citizenship.
‘Birth tourists’ often come to the United States from Nigeria, China and Russia. However, there is no official count of the babies born to foreign visitors in the US but the Immigration Restrictionist Group Center for Immigration Studies has stated that a rough estimate amounts up to at least 33,000 each year.
When questioned about birth tourism in USA, Tom Homan, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director, stated that birthright citizenship is a key driver for illegal immigration and that it was the reason behind the surge of asylum applicants who arrived in Mexico in 2019. Tom said, “They think it is their golden ticket to come to the US. If the message we want to send to the rest of the world is: enter this country illegally, have a US citizen child and you’re free to go, then we’re never going to solve the border crisis.”
There have also been cases against birth tourists including multiple agencies running birth tourism. Last year, the US Department of Justice charged three people for running maternity hotels where they help certain people to take advantage of the 14th Amendment. These agencies catered to Chinese clients in Southern California, where women were charged somewhere between $ 15,000 and $ 50,000 to give birth in the US.