Published February 8, 2019

With few exceptions, per the Constitution of the United States of America, if a person is born in the U.S., they are born as a U.S. citizen – and no matter the citizenship or immigration status of their parent.  As further evidence of just how valuable a life in the U.S. is, especially with a U.S. passport, we have news of the prosecution of an alleged criminal enterprise specializing in arranging for foreign individuals to enter the U.S. for the sole purpose of giving birth to their children as U.S. citizens.   

In recent days, federal authorities have unsealed indictments against 19 individuals – mainly Chinese or of Chinese origin, in a first of a kind operation against individuals alleged to have carried out a scheme to help Chinese citizens fraudulently obtain tourist visas to enter the U.S. for the purpose of allowing expectant mothers to give birth in the U.S.,  thus leading to their children to be born U.S. citizens.  This is the first known prosecution of individuals operating business schemes in what has become known as the “birth tourism” industry.

The investigated activity started in approximately 1999 and extended through March, 2015, when the federal operation closed down the various enterprises carrying out the alleged scheme.   The organizations operated by the accused raked in hundreds of millions of dollars, charging their customers a fee ranging from $40,000.00 to $100,000.00, to optimize their chances of obtaining a U.S. visitor visa and after entry, be provided apartments to stay in while awaiting the birth of their child.  

Customers would be assisted in obtaining fraudulent financial documentation to enhance their chances of obtaining their tourist visas, and coached as to the best way to answer U.S. consular officer questions especially when it came to length and purpose of their trip to the U.S..   Customers would also be guided as to the best type of loose fitting clothing to wear so as to avoid being detected as pregnant by Customs and Border Protection inspectors upon entering the U.S..  Clientele would be guided on how to best skip out on a hospital bill following delivery of their baby and release from the hospital.  Lastly, operators of the enterprises schemed to defraud owners of properties that were leased to house the birth tourism clientele during their stay in the U.S., withholding monies owed to these property owners under their various leases.  

Most of the accused have fled the U.S. while others who were arrested reside mainly in California, and all face the possibility of 5-10 years in prison and significant fines.

PUBLISHED February 8, 2019– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2019, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois