“I see this as a grave national security concern and vulnerability.” – ICE Special Agent in Los Angeles
Birth tourism is nothing new but because our national security is so lax, the scam industry has grown like wildfire.
California happens to be where many of the birth tourism “hotels” are located. A pregnant woman from China, Russia, and other foreign countries hides her pregnancy to come to America. She stays at a “birth hotel” until she gives birth. The whole point of this is to give the newborn American citizenship.
Yes, our government has incentivized women to come to our country and give birth because the child gets automatic American citizenship. Also, when the child turns 21, they can move to the U.S. and then their parents can apply for a green card.
Let’s hope that with the new indictments against the people running the birth tourism businesses, this will help put an end to it.
Of the three businesses involved, one of them advertised that they’ve brought 8,000 women to the U.S. to give birth.
Wealthy Chinese couples pay the company big money to travel to the U.S. to deliver their babies.
Twenty people have been charged in the biggest crackdown ever on helping Chinese women come to the U.S. to give birth.
Washington Times reports:
Three people were arrested in Southern California on charges including conspiracy, visa fraud and money laundering. More than a dozen others have also been charged in cases stemming from three so-called birth tourism businesses, with many believed to be in China, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
It is the first time the United States has criminally prosecuted birth tourism operators, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.
U.S. authorities said the businesses not only engaged in fraud but have created a national security risk. Their customers — some who work for the Chinese government — have secured American citizenship for children who can later move back to the United States, and once they’re 21 years old, sponsor their parents for green cards.
The pregnant women can also be in danger.
CHINESE AND RUSSIAN BIRTH TOURISM:
Southern California apartment complexes that doubled as “maternity hotels” for Chinese women who want made-in-America babies were raided, capping an unprecedented federal sting operation, officials said.
NBC News was on the scene as Homeland Security agents swept into The Carlyle, a luxury property in Irvine, California, which housed pregnant women and new moms who allegedly forked over $40,000 to $80,000 to give birth in the United States.
“I am doing this for the education of the next generation,” one of the women told NBC News.
None of the women were arrested; they are being treated as material witnesses, and paramedics were on hand in case any of them went into labor during the sweep.
Instead, the investigation was aimed at ringleaders who pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars tax-free to help Chinese nationals obtain visas and then pamper them until they delivered in an American hospital at a discount, court papers show.
“It’s not necessarily illegal to come here to have the baby, but if you lie about your reasons for coming here, that’s visa fraud,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for Los Angeles.
All told, the feds raided 20 locations in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, targeting three competing birth tourism schemes, officials said. The suspected operators have not been charged but are being questioned.
The organizers who allegedly ran the Carlyle site, Chao Chen and Dong Li, used a website to drum up business, touting the benefits of a child with U.S. citizenship: 13 years of free education, low-cost college financial aid, less pollution, and a path for the entire family to emigrate when the child becomes an adult.
Clients were counseled on what lies to tell to obtain a tourist visa; how to fly through Hawaii, Las Vegas or Korea to avoid suspicious immigration officers at Los Angeles International Airport; and how to disguise their pregnancy in transit, according to search warrant affidavit unsealed Tuesday.
The women were then set up at the Carlyle, which charges about $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment and features amenities including private balconies, a resort-style pool, and cabanas with flat-screen televisions.
A neighbor, Linda Trust, told NBC News she did find it strange that she had seen a forklift deliver a huge pile of diapers to the buildings but had never seen a baby.
The women’s handlers provided transportation for doctor visits and trips to restaurants and shops, the court papers say. An agent tailing one of the suspects followed them to Target and Babies R Us.
They were funneled to several Orange County hospitals to deliver, but they didn’t pay full price — approximately $25,000 — for medical services, officials said. Instead, they got reduced rates for the indigent, ranging from nothing to $4,000, the court papers say.
That translated into big losses for the hospitals. More than 400 babies linked to the scheme were born at just one facility in a two-year period, investigators said.
The investigators discovered that the parents of one baby born in April 2014 who paid the hospital just $4,000 were spending money at the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel, Rolex and Louis Vuitton, using an account with almost a quarter of a million dollars in it.
The fraud, authorities say, went beyond the visas.
Li didn’t file a U.S. tax return and Chen didn’t declare hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds, the affidavit says. In addition, Chen and his wife, Jie Zhu committed marriage fraud, pretending to be divorced so they could get “green-card” marriages in the U.S., the feds charged.
Efforts to reach Chen, Zhu and Li by phone were unsuccessful. It was not clear if they have retained legal counsel.
The phenomenon of foreigners coming to the U.S. to have babies is not new but appears to be growing. One study found that 40,000 children a year are born to women here on a travel visa, the affidavit notes.
RUSSIAN ‘BIRTH HOTELS’…
A growing number of Russians are coming to the U.S. to give birth. These kids will have the right to live and work here, receive social services and, when they turn 21, will have the right to sponsor their parents for an American Green Card. Read more: https://t.co/4doKwLoChn pic.twitter.com/zUSom9ui1w
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 10, 2018