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Birthing and Maternity Tourism in America - U.S. Citizenship for Foreign Babies

Updated on April 2, 2012


Is Maternity Tourism Ethical?

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What is Birthing Tourism?

The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that babies born in America are given U.S. citizenship. That seems simple enough, doesn't it? Well, read on because creative people from around the world have found a way to turn this into a revenue generating business. A big business!

A cottage industry has developed around the Amendment and women from around the world can visit the United States on a legal visa, finish their pregnancy and give birth on American soil. According to the Washington Post, Chinese women have paid almost $15,000 for the visit which includes a delivery with Chinese-speaking attendants, nurses and doctors. To make the wait during the last trimester go more quickly, these companies offer extensive trips to shopping malls and the most popular tourist attractions, all while receiving specialized medical care.

Some offerings include transportation, insurance, maternity care and even an on-site nurse to assist the babies.

A markersan gabriel, ca -
San Gabriel, CA, USA
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Where do these Tourists Stay?

Where are these recovery rooms? Look next door to YOUR home! That's right, homes in suburban America are being used to house the women as they await their delivery. In March, 2011, the owners of a few townhouses in San Gabriel, CA were given citations for using their homes as "Anchor Baby Hotels." Their violation? The homes were not zoned for this business activity.

Please don't confuse this with other immigration issues. This is completely different than illegal migrants coming to the United States to work and live. These women are operating completely within the rules, pay for all-inclusive service packages, and return to their home countries with a newborn.

United States Visa
United States Visa

Who is a Maternity Tourist?

Southern California has become a hub of activity for the birthing tourism industry. Women from around the world will pay a tourist coordinator and seek a legal visa to enjoy an extended stay in America.

But who are these women? They are primarily from Asia, but there have reputedly been thousands of births from Turkish women as well. The common denominator appears to be that the visitors are from large, higher income countries. These women can afford the high costs of flying to the United States, enjoying a multi-month stay and pay for the top-notch American hospital visits.

Land of Opportunity!
Land of Opportunity!

What are the Benefits?

As stated earlier, the 14th Amendment grants citizenship to babies born in America as long as the mother is "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States." What does that mean? As with most policies, the answer is "it depends!"  Some scholars believe that this clause means that U.S. citizens are the group of people who are subject to the jurisdiction.  Others believe that anyone, except for foreign diplomats, are required to follow the rules and laws of the U.S. and are therefor "subject to the jurisdiction."  As it stands now, that is subject to debate.

Should pregnant foreigners be scrutinized?  There are no rules that prohibit pregnant women from visiting the United States and any attempt to regulate them would be rife with controversy!  Imagine the headlines of the newspapers if America limits the movements and stay of pregnant women?

But why would women want their children to have U.S. citizenship? The answers vary dramatically from the educational system to the perception that America is the land of opportunity. They believe that giving the gift of a citizenship of the United States is extremely valuable. When the children are old enough, they may even be able to sponsor their parents or siblings for citizenship.

The Ethics of the Maternity Tourism

Is this ethical?  Some would say that this is a loophole of the Constitution, that there was never any intention to allow people to come to the United States, give birth, and earn a citizenship.  On the other hand, this is an open secret and if there were concerns with it, the government would have addressed it.

What do you think?  Is this a creative method to bypass formalized immigration policies?  Is this an appropriate technique to allow children to become citizens?

Remember, everything is out in the open.  There is no smuggling or hiding.  There is no lengthy voyages on overpacked boats or midnight runs across the border.  These women pay for airfare and boarding, use a fully legal visa and even contribute to the economy of the United States during their stay.  

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments block below.


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      embraden 5 years ago

      Indeed, I don't have a staunch opinion on the ethical nature of this particular "business"matter. My interest is based on the origination of the health insurance plans of those who arrive in the US specifically to deliver here. Who is paying for their benefits? How do they obtain such elaborate and FULL maternity coverage? When their benefits are verified, it is often found that their out of pocket costs are $ 0 to $ Minimal ( $500!)! I am incredulous to this information as any dedicated-hardworking -single/2 parent- single- income-tax-paying American should be! Anyone have any insight? Perhaps we should review their plan before implementing healthcare reform in the US! Obviously, THEY are doing MANY THINGS RIGHT to provide such comprehensive coverage at what cost to whom????

    • profile image

      Sen 6 years ago

      you re right Koala: I am planing to do this business too. I located in Los Angeles San Gabriel Vally area, and everything is legal, right? I am Chinese American, and I belive that this business is good for US and helping these Chinese moms I came from China 13years ago when I was 15. All my family are doing business in China. So I know a lot of thing about China. These Chinese Moms came to US because of few reasons. 1. they are rich and they have trust in US hospitals because 99% will not give a natural delivery for the mom!! for real even you know the doctors and already pay them kick backs asking for a Natural delivery they WILL NOT DO! Because Natural take too long and the Chinese doctors want to do 20+ babies every day. 2. All government family members' can not have 2nd Child and if you do. You will lose your job! even you are a man and your wife had 2nd baby the government will fire you. Not only you! all your coworker in the whole office will lost their Bonuce for the year! and if you lucky didn't get fired and at least you will never get promo! what bad is the 2nd Child will never get an ID for his life in China! No local schools and other benefits. The 2nd Child will be like a Man in US without a SSN!! you know how bad that be. 3. All these people having baby in US are rich families. at least their Cash Asset in USD should be Above 200K. Because they will spend 20K+ in US if they deliver the baby here. All people are happy! Shopping Malls, Hospitals, Doctor, even some thing relate to you. For example the house price! I am real estate agent. Most these moms after they deliver the baby they might have chance willing to purchase a home in US because all the propertie they buy can be give to their new burn after a period of time. And if you buy house in China you only owns it for 70 year. And now they(CN Government) don't want people to buy more than 2 house in China! So think about it first all these moms pay all their spending CASH! No Dets, right? sales taxs for stuff they buy. They pay doctor Cash! and Docs. will pay income tax! they pay Hospital Cash, the Hospital will pay tax. If they buy a house in US they pay propertie tax! no metter they are chinese or American as long as they keeping the propertie they have to pay Propertie Tax. All the people doing this business they first might rent a home for the business when they made money form these moms they will buy a home because buy is better than rent in a long run. So the local property sell will increase. Then All people living in the area will benefit from these moms. Less laid offs from the shopping malls the hospitals and other business. The the State will have bit Extra incomes. 1000+ chinese babies are burn in Los Angeles, and that is only Los Angeles. that's at least 25 Million spending not including else spendings. Most The moms will go back to China after the baby came out. Once they come back to US that Means they are ready for spending more money and Pay more Tax. LOL. So it is a great business for Chinese Mom and US government, also all americans. Any ones want to invest in my business please let me know. I am good faith business man and welcome for all investors for real estate in los Angeles and Business opportunities from My Chinese connections. e-mail:

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      koala 6 years ago

      As an american, wherever u r in this world, u gotta pay tax. I would say, well to do foreigners who come in usa to give birth, one day these babies will pay usa tax (if they decide not to give up usa citizenship in the future). If they are rich enough to come in to usa so that their babies can grant citizenship, most likely these kids will become an asset, not someone who just wanna live on government's money. Come on, they fly in, they spend, they shop in the top notch malls, they r helping usa's economy right now.

    • Mutiny92 profile image

      Mutiny92 6 years ago from Arlington, VA

      Thanks Simone! It is a fascinating ethical issue for the country.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Maternity tourism sure is an interesting issue- great overview!

    • Mutiny92 profile image

      Mutiny92 6 years ago from Arlington, VA

      RTalloni, you bring up a great point! Would anyone in America really complain if one of these children grew up, became rich and paid lots of US taxes?

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Creative? I should say so.

      As U.S. citizens will these children be paying taxes one day? Do they plan to claim scholarships for education? I could think of a few more questions but who knows?

      It's important to note that U.S. citizens who live here in objection to (even openly protesting) our Constitution, our freedoms, our ways of life, and demand that we tolerate others coming here with the intention of changing our country are not packing up to get citizenship for themselves or their children in China or Turkey or anywhere else. While that's a little off your main topic, it is perhaps, now that I think about it, too bad.

      Interesting stuff to think through.