Administration Looks to End Birth Tourism
By Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | January 2020
On January 21st, the Trump administration announced it would begin cracking down on the practice of birth tourism. A newly published rule directs consular employees at the State Department to deny tourist visas to pregnant women who have no legitimate reason for visiting the United States other than to give birth.
Birth tourism is a booming underground industry in the United States due to our current interpretation of birthright citizenship. Federal agents arrested three people last year in California for operating a multimillion-dollar birth tourism business. These businesses draw foreign nationals to the United States in order to procure U.S. citizenship for their unborn children. Citizen children can sponsor their parents for a green card when they turn 21. Research indicates that over 33,000 tourist births occur every year. In a statement, the State Department noted that “the birth tourism industry is also rife with criminal activity, including international criminal schemes.”
This rule is well overdue. It takes practical steps to address an issue that many Americans believe needs correction. Birth tourism is only one issue under the umbrella of birthright citizenship, but one that the administration can change through consular direction. Consular officers will now screen pregnant women to ensure that the primary purpose of their visit to U.S. is not to give birth. These decisions fall upon individual officers to use their judgment. Though seemingly arbitrary, consular offices use their instincts and training every day to deny visas for all sorts of reasons. With this rule, the State Department is directing them to scrutinize these visa applications further.
President Trump has long opposed birthright citizenship, indicating in August that his administration was looking at different possibilities for ending the interpretation. The successful implementation of checks and visa scrutiny on birth tourists – a major problem stemming from birthright citizenship - may indicate the start of an administrative effort to challenge and finally end birthright citizenship.
To see FAIR’s statement on this action, please visit this link.