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Birth Tourism

Born in the USA! The Rising Trend of Birth Tourism

Forget push presents; what wealthy pregnant women from around the world really want postchildbirth is US citizenship for their lil one. Hence the rise and booming popularity of birth tourism — where foreign women with substantial financial means come to the US to have their babies. The US is the only developed country, other than Canada, that grants jus soli, or birthright citizenship to any individual born here. Like parents everywhere, these women want the best for their children: for them, that means access to American schools, universities, and jobs.

Expectant mothers generally enter the country on a tourist or business visa — it's illegal to refuse entry to a woman on the sole grounds that she's pregnant — a few months before her due date. Once here, she needs somewhere to stay and help navigating the system. This is where the industry comes in: from the southern coast of California to the suburbs of New York City and everywhere in between, Americans are catering to this specific group of women, setting up birth tourism centers where women can rent rooms and receive help obtaining their babies' passports and social security numbers.

Birth tourism isn't a new idea — it's been going on for decades — but a recent move by Congress, which if passed will put up significant roadblocks for women hoping to deliver on US soil, has brought the topic to the forefront of the immigration debate.

What do you think about birth tourism? Should it be illegal?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
chrstbll chrstbll 4 years
*babies of American citizens out of wedlock born abroad
chrstbll chrstbll 4 years
I think this is an very unfair. My boyfriend and I are having a baby. He has dual citizenship -- French and American. We do not want to get married as we like our current arrangement. I was so shocked to find out that the baby's of American citizens out of wedlock abroad are not entitled to a US citizenship if their American parent/s have not spent at least five years in the US after the age of 18. He grew up in France but has worked in the US for four years. This means that we have to get me a fiance visa get married there and make sure we deliver in the US or get married here and he sponsors both of me and the baby to become US citizen. Both take time and money. Apparently tourists' babies have more rights than American citizens' babies born out of wedlock abroad. I know immigration laws are complicated but I think this whole giving US citizenship to who gets born in the US is very unfair.
Linda-Leon Linda-Leon 5 years
Coming from a border city I know for a fact that underprivilage children ARE being born in the US. Please don't think it is just Mexico, too. What about illegal, or migrant workers having children here? They think that now that this child was born in the US it gives them the right to stay and raise that child here.
Natasha-Dantzig Natasha-Dantzig 5 years
I agree that it's a complex issue, but for different reasons. Wealth discrepancy is kind of a different issue and it's not like if these wealthy foreign children aren't born here, that the less privileged ones will be able to take their spot. And just a point of clarification, most of these babies don't wind up living here, at least not at first. Citizenship simply affords them the right to come back for school, apply for jobs, etc. And yes, eventually settle here with their families if they so choose. I guess I feel like this is sort of one of the ideals our country was founded on — we're a nation of immigrants.
bisou002 bisou002 5 years
I agree with you, Betty Wayne, though I find I tend to lead towards feeling negatively about the issue. As you said, the babies born to poor families are the ones who should reap the benefits of living in this country.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 5 years
I'm really on the fence about this. I understand why a mother would want her baby to be a US citizen, and they're not breaking any laws apparently. But at the same time, it feels like 'cheating.' One baby gets US citizenship just because s/he's born to wealthy parents, while one born to poor parents- the one who would benefit MOST from citizenship- gets nothing. I'm interested what other opinions there are on this, and interested to see where congress goes with it.
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