China’s one-child policy was never a problem for the wealthy. They would simply fly to the U.S. to give birth.
The American constitution stipulates that a child born in the U.S. is a U.S. citizen.
These children can — when reaching the age of 21 — apply for residency for their families, which then makes them eligible to also become U.S. citizens.
According to figures from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 40,000 pregnant women traveled to the U.S. to give birth, most of them from China.
It’s legal for a pregnant woman to travel to the U.S., and it is also legal for them to give birth there. However, it is illegal to conceal the plan to give birth to a child during travel to the U.S. at the time of applying for a U.S. visa.
Most Chinese who can afford to go to the U.S. to give birth are financially well-off and stay there for a few months at a time. Hoag Hospital Newport Beach in Orange County, California, offers a full-package service for these rich families. It costs US$7,500 for a natural delivery and US$10,750 for a c-section delivery.
It is estimated that every year these families spend US$1 billion coming to the U.S. to give birth, which does not include their other daily expenses.
In March 2015, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided several service centers in southern California that specialize in helping these wealthy families. The business owners were charged with visa fraud and tax evasion. These service centers charge each pregnant woman between US$40,000 and US$80,000 to help with their birth, everyday living, and obtaining legal documents for the newborns.
In the past, there were many stowaways from the southeastern Chinese Province of Fujian who tried to make it to the U.S. Some tried their luck going through airport customs, some went by ship, some climbed the Himalayas to go through Nepal, others went to South America and sought help from human traffickers.
These stowaways sought asylum most of the time because they didn’t want to suffer under China’s one-child policy. In the 1990s, the fee to smuggle them to the U.S. was about US$30,000 per person, and later went up to US$60,000. The outrageous costs still didn’t stop the stowaways from flooding in.
Research by Monica Song and Kathy McWilliams