New Visa Rule Aims to Crack Down on ‘Birth Tourism’

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Trump administration unveiled a new visa rule Thursday in an effort to stop pregnant woman from traveling to the U.S. so their children can be born American citizens.

“This rule establishes that travel to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States is an impermissible basis for the issuance of a [temporary] nonimmigrant visa,” according to the State Department rule.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The new rule, which marks the latest immigration crackdown by the Trump administration, will go into effect Friday.

Temporary visas can last anywhere between one month to 10 years. Although visa interviews are not supposed to touch on a woman’s pregnancy status, consular officers will ultimately decide if pregnant women should be turned away because they are solely coming to the U.S. to give birth or if they are legitimately traveling to receive medical aid.

Women looking for medical aid must then prove they are able to pay for the procedure as well as the subsequent transportation and living expenses over the course of their treatment, according to the State Department.

In 2012, the conservative Center for Immigration Studies estimated that around 36,000 foreign women traveled to the country to give birth.

Companies have created business models around the “birth tourism” industry in which they charge up to $80,000 to take pregnant women, often from Russia or China, to the U.S. for the birth of their children and provide the subsequent medical care and travel arrangements. All children born in the U.S. are considered American citizens, per the Constitution.

“An entire ‘birth tourism’ industry has evolved to assist pregnant women from other countries to come to the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship for their children by giving birth in the United States, and thereby entitle their children to the benefits of U.S. citizenship,” the State Department rule states.

It goes on to state that birth tourism poses risks to national security as it is “rife with criminal activity, including international criminal schemes, as reflected in federal prosecutions of individuals and entities involved in that industry.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Thursday that the news rules are necessary to enhance national security and the integrity of the immigration system.

“Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice,” Grisham said. “It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism.”

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