Underground ‘Birthing Tourism’ Center Uncovered in Los Angeles

March 28, 2011 Updated: March 28, 2011

An underground maternity center run by a Chinese couple was recently uncovered in a quiet neighborhood in San Gabriel city of Los Angeles County, California. (Jenny Liu/The Epoch Times)
An underground maternity center run by a Chinese couple was recently uncovered in a quiet neighborhood in San Gabriel city of Los Angeles County, California. (Jenny Liu/The Epoch Times)
SAN GABRIEL, California—The San Gabriel Neighborhood Improvement Service (NIC) and city police discovered an underground maternity (or birthing) center operated by a Chinese couple while investigating building code violation of several townhouses on South Palm Avenue on March 8. The topic of pregnant Chinese women coming to the United States to give birth is once again stirred up.

The five townhouses owned by a Chinese couple, housed 12 Chinese people of which 10 were women who have just given birth and 10 newborns, seven of whom were put in bassinets lined up in an illegally renovated kitchen.

The story was first reported by San Gabriel Valley Tribune (SGVT) on March 22. Dwight Chang, the property manager declined to talk to The Epoch Times. However, he was fined US$800 for violating building codes and operating without a business license, although he denied the charges, the SGVT report said.

Investigators said these women had paid about $35,000 to come to the United States to give birth, the report said.

On March 23, piles of Chinese-language newspapers and empty Pampers boxes could be seen outside the Townhouses. Three Mexican workers were inside a house doing the remodeling work.

Jennifer Davis, director of community development of San Gabriel city, told The Epoch Times that the townhouses had been fined twice for building code violations before, but the refurbishments continued.

Neighbor Taylor said the houses had been under renovation since she moved there in 2008 and she had seen “rows of pregnant women” coming from that house with their family.

Taylor said she was shocked. “I can't believe there are 10 pregnant women. They are very quiet. There was no screaming and no baby crying,” she told The Epoch Times. “I thought maybe they were there for acupuncture treatment.”

She also said she often saw Mercedes and Porsche parked on the street by the houses.

Another neighbor living across the street complained she had never seen any renovation like this that connects several townhouses together. A third neighbor said she had seen the Chinese couple who rent the house strolling along with pregnant women in the community.

The five townhouses connected together. (Jenny Liu/The Epoch Times)
The five townhouses connected together. (Jenny Liu/The Epoch Times)
In fact, last year Shanghai Overseas Chinese News already reported that a web host of a maternity center in Los Angeles said there were dozens of maternity centers run by Chinese people in Los Angeles, each having one to five standalone houses that can accommodate 8-10 maternity women.

Each year about 5,000 women from China come for “birthing tourism” to the United States, according to a report by Information Times on Aug. 23, 2010.

Searching Baidu, China’s most used search engine, for the phrase “fumeishengzi” or “fumeichanzi” (birthing tourism to the United States) will return more than one million results, with most websites sharing tips on birthing tourism in the United States and the pros and cons of doing so.

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