President Donald J. Trump has always been known to target foreigners. As President he has made it harder for both legal and illegal immigrants to come to the United States. The President now has a new target: Pregnant women. The President is imposing new visa rules aimed at restricting “birth tourism”. According to this Administration, the regulation, which took effect on Friday the 24th of January 2020, addresses one of President Donald Trump’s main political priorities.
To those that wonder, what exactly is “birth tourism”? It is a term that is given to a woman that travels to the United States to give birth so their children can have a U.S. citizenship. Some may know this term as “anchor baby” if a child’s citizenship is intended to help their parent obtain permanent residency in the country. Some of the reasons for birth tourism include access to public schooling, healthcare, sponsorship for the parents in the future. President Trump has stated that he believes that being born on US soil should not be enough to obtain US citizen.
The United States Constitution in the Fourteenth Amendment clearly states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” So why target Pregnant women if the child has the right for citizenship? The main objective of the new regulation is to prevent a number of foreigners who take advantage of the constitutional provision granting “birthright citizenship” to anyone born in the United States.
Consular officers will not be asking female applicants of childbearing age whether they are pregnant or intend on getting pregnant. However, officers may inquire where the officer has reason to believe that the applicant is pregnant and likely or planning to give birth in the United States. Officer will especially ask where there are visual cues such as appearing to be pregnant or listing “medical treatment” as a reason for wanting to travel to the United States. If a woman is found to be pregnant and give birth to a child in the United States, she could be granted a visa if she is able to demonstrate a valid reason for the travel such as attending a business meeting or conference or visiting an ailing relative.
United States officials said the rule will not apply to any foreign applicant that travel from any of the thirty-nine mainly European and Asian countries enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program, which it allows citizens of those foreign countries to come to the United States without a visa for temporary stays. The rule will only apply to immigrants with so called “B” class visas that permit short-term stays for business or pleasure.
The State Department “does not believe that visiting the United States for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child, by giving birth in the United States, an activity commonly referred to as ‘birth tourism’ is a legitimate activity for pleasure or of a recreational nature,” according to the new rule, which were published on Thursday the 23rd of January in the Federal Register.
“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,” the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement. “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. The integrity of American citizenship must be protected.” The state department “does not believe that visiting the United States for the primary purpose of obtaining US citizenship for a child, by giving birth in the United States – an activity commonly referred to as ‘birth tourism’ – is a legitimate activity for pleasure or of a recreational nature,” according to the new rules, which took effect on Friday the 24th of January.
There are no figures on how many foreign women travel to the US specifically to give birth. The Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for stricter immigration laws, estimated that in 2012 about 36,000 foreign-born women gave birth in the US and then left the country. “The recent federal indictments describe birth tourism schemes in which foreign nationals applied for visitor visas to come to the United States and lied to consular officers about the duration of their trips, where they would stay, and their purpose of travel.” This is yet another effort of President Trump’s administration to restrict immigration.