The Trump administration is coming out on Thursday (Jan 23, 2020) with new visa restrictions aimed at restricting “birth tourism,” in which women travel to the United States (US) to give birth so that their children can have a coveted US passport. Visa applicants deemed by consular officers to be coming to the US primarily to give birth will now be treated like other foreigners coming to the US for medical treatment. The applicants will have to prove they are coming for medical treatment and they have the money to pay for it.
Many people engage in such covert activities to get US citizenship for their newborn babies by making the mothers give birth on US soil. Delhi’s notorious former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Minister Sandeep Kumar dispatched his wife during pregnancy in a bid to get the newborn baby a US citizenship. The Delhi’s Women and Child Development Minister misused his official position and got VISA somehow to his pregnant wife. Later caught in a sex CD expose, he was removed from the Minister’s post.
Many Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and Indian Foreign Services (IFS) officers also used this trick for getting US citizenship for their newborn babies by getting admitted in US hospitals during pregnancy. A veteran IAS officer who retired as a Secretary in Culture did such an uncultured activity in the mid-60s to get his son delivered on US soil to get US citizenship. The US citizen son is now a journalist. Another controversial lady IFS officer from Mumbai also used the same trick. As per US rules, kids born in US soil will get to be automatically US citizens. Some crooked diplomats from third world countries prefer their kids to be US citizens by birth in the US.
The State Department planned to publicize the rules Thursday, according to two officials with knowledge of the plans who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The rules will take effect from Friday. The practice of coming to the US to give birth is fundamentally legal, although there are scattered cases of authorities arresting operators of birth tourism agencies for visa fraud or tax evasion. And women are often honest about their intentions when applying for visas and even show signed contracts with doctors and hospitals.
The Trump administration has been restricting all forms of immigration, but the president has been particularly plagued by the issue of birthright citizenship — anyone born in the US is considered a citizen, under the Constitution. He has railed against the practice and threatened to end it, but scholars and members of his administration have said it’s not so easy to do.
Regulating tourist visas for pregnant women is one way to get at the issue, but it raises questions about how officers would determine whether a woman is pregnant, to begin with and whether a woman could get turned away by border officers who suspect she maybe just by looking at her.
Consular officers don’t have the right 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 US primarily to give birth.
Birth tourism is a lucrative business in both the U.S. And abroad. American companies take out advertisements and charge up to USD 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 US.
The US has been cracking down on the practice since before Trump took office. There are no figures on how many foreign women travel to the US 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 US, then left the country.
The draft rule is “intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry,” a State Department spokesperson said.
[with PTI inputs]
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