Federal agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement searched over 30 locations across Southern California on Monday to uncover evidence of “maternity tourism” operations.
The motive is usually so the child receives automatic U.S. citizenship.
While that act in itself is not illegal, federal investigators are trying to determine if several businesses that help wealthy Chinese women are breaking the law by helping the mothers obtain U.S. visas under false pretenses.
Claude Arnold, the lead investigator for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says the agency is specifically targeting three organizations that advertise online to wealthy Chinese women who want to give birth in the U.S. As Arnold told National Public Radio: “The organizations facilitate their travel. They make arrangements for lodgings here, their medical care, etc. So that their clients can have children born here as United States citizens.”
One maternity business in California advertised online in Chinese and branded itself as: “You Win USA Vacation Resort.”
Federal authorities have noted that several of the businesses have charged the Chinese mothers from $15,000 all the way up to $60,000 for coaching, travel, lodging, as well as hospital expenses. Not all packages include travel expenses, though, while some even include recreational trips to Disneyland.
Hospitals in the United States are more appealing to Chinese mothers because they are less expensive, less crowded and generally safer.
Authorities have yet to make any arrests, and are currently just gathering evidence and conducting interviews.
The BBC report below about the issue includes interviews with Chinese women who have come to the U.S. to give birth.