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Birth Tourism – from China to the US

By March 10, 2015Uncategorized
This post was originally published by Regent Law Professor Lynne Marie Kohm, on her Family Restoration blog.
Birth tourism, the practice of families traveling as tourists to another nation solely for the purpose of childbirth, is a problem that tends to offer insight into global family issues.  Birth tourists tend to take advantage of the host country economically and politically, while simultaneously averting the laws of their home nation.
Last week federal agents raided multiple California apartments, discovering evidence of birth tourism businesses whose primary clients, in these instances, were Chinese women. These businesses charge pregnant women thousands of dollars to help them get to the United States in time to give birth, and gain citizenship for their child, as under the Fourteenth Amendment any child born in the United States is a citizen of the United States. These raids have caused U.S. Senator Vitter (R-LA) to renew his call for the end of birthright citizenship.
Federal agents “were looking for evidence of visa fraud, conspiracy and other crimes in which women were helped to fabricate documents for visa applications and coached to falsely claim that they were traveling to the U.S. for tourism,” according to the LA Times. For more information on these raids, read  the BBC’s account. These actions are clear evidence of immigration fraud, a consequence of the tangled web of intersections between family law and federal law.  For more information about those intersections of family law and immigration, read The Challenges of Family Law and Policy inImmigration Regulation
This phenomenon of birth tourism, furthermore, may be at least partly a result of strict current Chinese population policies. (Find more information on Chinese population controls here.)  These policies have affected reproductive rights so severely that they have given rise to not only birth tourism taking advantage of a host country, but also to the growth in human trafficking in those controlled nations, and throughout the world.  Examining the Associations between Sustainable Development Population Policies and Human Trafficking details the unintended or unforeseen consequences of stringent population controls, and how they both burden and risk the lives of women.  Birth Tourism is just another consequence of childbirth concerns for many families from tightly controlled national populations, making family restoration all the more challenging. 
– This thoughtful post is from guest blogger Amy Hilton, Regent Law 3L.