US to step up ban on ‘Birth tourism’

Donald Trump has been busy making lots of changes to the US immigration system over the last few years, in his quest to protect the US with a stricter approach to allowing foreign citizens to enter the US. Many of his changes have caused a great deal of controversy and resulted in court cases, as well as disapproval from authorities in affected countries.

Now Trump is looking to stop pregnant women visiting the US and giving birth in the US in order to get US citizenship for their child. This process has been referred to as ‘birth tourism’ where the woman comes into the US with the sole intention of giving birth in the country and they do not have another reason for travelling to the US.

The President has made it clear that he does not approve of the constitutional amendment that currently gives automatic citizenship to the majority of children that are born in the US. The children are often described as ‘anchor-babies’ as they are born to parents that are trying to live in the US through the citizenship of their child.

What is changing?

The new rule will apply to visitors trying to obtain a B visa to visit the US, where consular officials find them to be solely visiting the US for ‘birth tourism’. The new rule also applies to people who want to enter the US for medical treatment, as they will now be asked to prove that they have the ‘means and intent’ to make the payment for their medical treatment.

It is estimated that around 33,000 children are born in the US to women that have entered the US on a temporary tourist visa.

A loophole in the system

Last year, a Chinese woman was found guilty of setting up a ‘birth tourism’ scheme that helped Chinese nationals to enter the US so they could give birth in the US and gain citizenship for their child. Part of the scheme included providing the women with advice on how to hide the fact that they were pregnant and to evade US immigration control.

The woman offered the scheme to wealthy Chinese nationals, charging between $40,000 and $80,000 at a time. She was found to have profited by around $3m in total by providing the illegal service. Her services included advising them which area to fly into for an easier route past customs. She also provided information and coaching on lying to the interviewer at the US consulate in order to obtain a temporary visa.

The new rule will clamp down on instances like this, although it is not yet clear how this will be monitored in terms of proving whether a visa applicant is pregnant. US Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is quoted as stating “Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice.” She also highlighted that it would prevent taxpayers from footing the bill associated with birth tourism.

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