The Birth Tourism Industry Continues to Grow

By Jon Feere on March 25, 2011

Citing building code violations, police and city inspectors in the city of San Gabriel — a Los Angeles suburb — recently closed three townhouses which had been converted to operate as a maternity center for birth tourists. (See video here.) According to city officials who spoke with the Chinese and Taiwanese temporary aliens, they traveled to the United States for the specific purpose of adding a U.S. passport-holder to their families. The effort had apparently become a lucrative business according to the observations of one neighbor who claims to have seen "groups of women in the advanced stages of pregnancy taking walks in the neighborhood and a lot of cars in the middle of the night." He explained, "I knew something from the get-go was going on. There was a lot of coming and going." Officials reportedly found 10 newborns and 12 immigrants inside the home.

In response the city's mayor, David Gutierrez, said "They should certainly be commended for looking at the future welfare of their children but we need to be very careful that as a result it doesn't impact services and quality of life that we provide for U.S. residents."

According to the Associated Press, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said the agency would only investigate if the case involved fraudulently obtained visas, suggesting that ICE feels birth tourism fits perfectly with the intent of the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause – a perspective that is not necessarily backed by law.

As the Center for Immigration Studies detailed in a recent report, "Birthright Citizenship in the United States: A Global Comparison", the significant benefits of U.S. citizenship and the executive branch's permissive birthright citizenship policies have become a magnet for those seeking to add a U.S. passport holder to their family. A birth tourism industry has grown significantly in recent years and the phenomenon of pregnant women traveling to the United States specifically for the purpose of giving birth on U.S. soil has grown largely without any debate in Congress or the consent of the public.

The U.S. State Department is not permitted to deny a woman a temporary visitor visa simply because she is pregnant. Consequently, the practice of granting automatic birthright citizenship allows a seemingly temporary admission of one foreign visitor to result in a permanent increase in immigration and grants of citizenship that were not necessarily contemplated or welcomed by the American public. Add to this the fact that immigration authorities are less likely to deport visitors who overstay their permitted time if they have a U.S. citizen child, and one ends up with an immigration policy quite different from that which was originally intended.

The birth tourism industry illustrates how the executive branch's permissive birthright citizenship policies can have the effect of transferring control over the nation's immigration policy from the American people to foreigners.

For more examples of birth tourism, see the report mentioned above.