Birth Tourism Baby Calls United States a "Foreign Country"

By Jon Feere on September 28, 2012

Yet another newspaper has reported evidence backing the claim that birth tourism creates U.S. citizens who take advantage of everything the United States has to offer while maintaining allegiance to the country in which they were actually raised.

Meet Jennifer Shih, a UC Davis college student born in New York who tells the Sacramento Bee, "I'm Taiwanese more than American." Back in 1989, Shih's mother boarded a jet bound for New York, tourist visa in hand. She didn't arrange her travel in order to take in a showing of Cats, however; she was eight months pregnant and the goal was to add a U.S.-passport holder to her family. In other words, she was engaging in fraud as admitted by Mr. Shih, who cited the quality of American schools as the impetus. Two months after giving birth Mrs. Shih "returned to Taiwan with her U.S. passport-bearing daughter in tow".

In 2004, when Jennifer reached the age of 15, she returned to the United States to take advantage of U.S.-taxpayer subsidized high schools in Idaho, Utah, and now college in California. Understandably, Jennifer — who didn't speak English when she arrived — describes the United States as a "foreign country". The reporter notes that "even after eight years", Jennifer says she still "thinks about Taiwan every day" and visits nearly every year. Jennifer's honesty highlights the absurdity of a lax birthright citizenship policy.

Jennifer's father has since moved to the United States, presumably as a result of chain migration, which allows individuals to sponsor parents and siblings upon turning 21 years of age. Jennifer says she is interested in having kids of her own who will go to college in America. This is a perfect example of how one instance of fraud can result in all sorts of population growth that was never welcomed by the American public. Birth tourism effectively puts U.S. citizenship policy into the hands of foreigners.

Despite the fact that no one in Jennifer's family has been paying taxes to support the University of California system, she will be treated like every other California student whose parents have been subsidizing the system for decades. As a result of her mother's fraud, Jennifer will pay a tuition rate that is much less than she otherwise would have as a foreign student. And every social welfare program available to Americans will also be available to Jennifer and her father. No wonder one Chinese travel agent told a Chinese weekly that when it comes to birth tourism "the return on investment is higher than robbing a bank".

While relations between United States and Taiwan are generally amicable, it is not difficult to imagine why lax birthright citizenship policies might be more problematic where a U.S.-born child has been brought up in a country that is hostile to America's interests. It is bad public policy to create citizens who are unsure of where their allegiances lie, yet that is often the result of birth tourism.

CIS has explored the issue of birth tourism in several publications: