U.S. Further Softens Its Position on Birth Tourism — But a Remedy Lurks

By David North on September 11, 2012

Apparently, the nation's already soft policy on "birth tourism" has been softened further.

A few weeks ago I wrote about an almost accidental ICE move against a birth tourism promoter in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory just north of Guam. The criminal was in the business of bringing pregnant Chinese mothers to the CNMI and was charged with harboring an illegal alien, rather than for promoting birth tourism.

A reader, Stan Antel, called to my attention a LawAndBorder.com blog written by an American immigration lawyer working in China, Gary Chodorow. He wrote:

Customs used to state on their website that "coming to the United States for the purpose of childbirth is not a valid reason for travel". More recently, however, CBP has updated its website to be consistent with State Department policy, focusing on whether the expectant mother has the financial ability to pay for medical services and the intent to return to a permanent home abroad after a temporary stay in the United States.

The most recent CBP statement on the subject can be seen here. In the Marianas case the birth-broker got into trouble because the Chinese mothers-to-be had arrived on a special Guam-and-CNMI visa waiver document and over-stayed their 45 days.

Interestingly, Chinese parents returning to China after having worked their way through American processes to have a U.S. citizen baby in the United States have a further challenge according to Chodorow. They must hide the location of the birth from Chinese authorities lest the baby be treated as a little alien by the local government and thus be denied the rights that Chinese youngsters have to schools and the like.

In other words, there are both substantial financial costs, and major law-avoidance efforts to be made if you want to give that infant a U.S. passport as the ultimate birthday present.

Maybe we should send the Chinese government a little list of birth tourism babies, along with the names of their parents. If the Chinese officials reacted as they are supposed to, that would bring birth tourism from that country to a crashing halt.

Maybe some American volunteers could do that on their own, with no governmental involvement: In some U.S. jurisdictions birth certificates are public records.