Trump plans to combat birth tourism


President Donald Trump plans to fight the problem of birth tourism. According to drafts of the President’s orders, the White House seeks to make the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of State to report on measures that they are taking to deal with this problem.

Trump claims: "The right of land, guaranteeing citizenship to all children born in the US, should be abolished as 7.5% of all births in the U.S. are to illegal immigrants, over 300,000 babies per year. This must stop. It is unaffordable and not right. Automatic citizenship for babies in the US is the biggest magnet for illegal immigration so this practice should be abolished."

Supporters of Trump claim that his figures understate the problem as 2008 figures from the Pew Research Centre claimed that 340,000 babies were born in the United States, in which at least one parent is a migrant without permission to stay in the country.

Opponents of Trump argue that the Pew figures were no more than a guess that became a fact by constant repetition, and that it is almost impossible to calculate the exact numbers of birth tourism.

The problem for medical tourism is that neither the proposed order nor any arguments differentiate between births of babies to people permanently in the USA from those born on US soil to mothers who almost immediately return to their home country.

Most birth tourists are from China, Russia and Nigeria. One calculation for 2014 says that 60,000 Chinese women arrived in the U.S. to give birth.

Chinese birth tourism works as planned trips. Trip organisers advise women to arrive at the third month of pregnancy as to not get caught by the customs officers. Upon arrival in the US, Chinese women are driven to private accommodation or to selected hospitals. The cost can be to $60,000 and this includes visa, transport, accommodation and after the birth of the child babysitting services, assistance with obtaining birth certificates and other options.

US law enforcement agencies have raided locations in an attempt to find the owners and organizers of the birth tourism business, but these people tend to keep well away from where the mothers are staying.

Birth tourism is also booming in Russia with many agencies offering Russian women childbirth in the USA. The most popular destination among Russian women is Miami, Florida due to its climate, environment, specialist clinics, and existing Russian connections.

Prices for Russians vary depending on the company and services offered. One agency offers four packages varying from $6,900 to for $49,900. This pays for the tour organisers, visa, apartment rent, gynaecologist services, paediatrician, transport and translation services. When advertising their services, companies point out that the vision of an American passport is not the only motive to give birth in the States. “Many travel for quality healthcare, others have bad experiences with childbirth in Russia or Ukraine or failed IVF attempts.

Unlike their Chinese counterparts, Russian birth tours claim to be legal. This means that companies give their customers a category B2 visa for the purpose of medical treatment. But services provided by such agencies are considered illegal by US authorities. In September 2016 AmeriMama was organized by the Meadowlands clinic in New Jersey. In a Russian-speaking Facebook group, employees of AmeriMama offered services connected to childbirth and registration of citizenship passports and visas for the child. US authorities claimed that AmeriMama was trading on American citizenship, so AmeriMama closed.

It is hard to predict how Trump’s policies will affect birth tourism as it will depend on how legal the edict is, how the various authorities police it, and whether or not agencies seek legal challenges.

That birth tourism has peaked, as it will be increasingly hard for some people to enter the USA, even without any new laws, is a logical conclusion.



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