Trump Administration Plans Visa Restrictions for Pregnant Women

Birth Tourism Targeted in Latest Trump Administration Move
January 22, 2020 Updated: January 22, 2020
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President Donald Trump’s administration is amending visa regulations, targeting birth tourism, an official confirmed to The Epoch Times on Wednesday.

The proposed amendment was outlined in the government’s agenda released late last year.

“The Department is amending its regulation on temporary visitors in the B nonimmigrant visa classification to provide that a temporary visit for pleasure does not include birth tourism,” the State Department said in the agenda, proposing a change to B nonimmigrant visa provisions.

An official confirmed on Wednesday that the administration is moving forward with the proposed amendment.

“This change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry,” the official said.

The rule will be published in the near future, the official added.

In one draft of the regulations, pregnant women would have to clear an additional hurdle before obtaining tourism visas—convincing a consular officer that they have another legitimate reason to come to the United States.

birth tourism
In this September 2017 file photograph, a flag is waved outside the White House, in Washington. The Trump administration is planning on cracking down on birth tourism. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

Trump made cracking down on illegal immigration and immigration loopholes a central point of his campaign, zeroing in on an issue that is a top concern for some voters.

Regulating pregnant tourists is a way to prevent them from giving birth in the United States, which would give their child automatic U.S. citizenship, known as birthright citizenship. Trump has also said he’s looking at birthright citizenship “very seriously.”

Consular officers right now aren’t told to ask during visa interviews whether a woman is pregnant or intends to become so. But they would have to determine whether a visa applicant would be coming to the United States primarily to give birth.

Birth tourism is a lucrative business in both the United States and abroad. American companies take out advertisements and charge up to $80,000 to facilitate the practice, offering hotel rooms and medical care. Many of the women travel from Russia and China to give birth in the United States. In one case last year, a Chinese women pleaded guilty for running a birth tourism business. In another case, authorities charged 20 people over Chinese birth tourism schemes.

According to a study published in a maternal journal last year that focused on Chinese birth tourists, women travel to the United States “for a better childbirth experience, and to secure future opportunities for their children.”

There are no figures on how many foreign women travel to the United States specifically to give birth. The Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for stricter immigration laws, estimated that in 2012, about 36,000 foreign-born women gave birth in the United States, then left the country.

Allen Zhong and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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