The Trump administration has announced new rules that are intended to restrict those women who travel to the United States to deliver their babies, a practise dubbed “birth tourism”, with the hopes it will secure them and their babies American citizenship. The amended regulation, which went into effect on the 24th of January, will see any applicant requesting a non-immigrant “B” visa application denied to women who are pregnant. It is a permit that grants permission to foreigners to temporarily travel to the United States for pleasure, medical purposes or for pleasure. In a statement, the U.S. State Department stated: “This change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry.”
While there are no specific statistics on the number of women coming to the U.S. to give birth, the Center for Immigration Studies, one that is intent on seeing a reduction on immigration, estimates that number exceeds 30,000 a year. Additionally, the state department noted that the number of applicants has increased and that adds increased to the United States national security, let alone US taxpayer medical costs. The new rule states “The birth tourism industry is also rife with criminal activity, including international criminal schemes, as reflected in federal prosecutions of individuals and entities involved in that industry.” Under current constitutional law, any women who give birth to a child in the United States will see that child earning U.S citizenship as part of the14th amendment. However, for many, it is outdated due to its being added at the conclusion of the civil war.
In a statement relating to the matter, The White House said, “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 business of travelling to the U.S to deliver babies is big business for women hoping to gain U.S. citizenship in countries such as the West Indies, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Lebanon and Turkey stated Jessica Vaughan, Center for Immigration Studies director of policy studies.
However, while the new rules are a step forward in combating this trend, senior counsel at Berry Appleman & Leiden, Jeffrey Gorsky, believes the rule will be challenging to implement. Gorkey who recently held a position whereby provided advice to consular officers on the interpretation of visa laws with the state department and is an American Immigration Lawyers Association member also added that it is his believe that the new rule is “beyond a reasonable interpretation of the statute”. One of Trump’s main objectives is to vastly reduce the influx if illegal immigrants into the U.S and this is one of several steps his administration has taken, another would be to increase the penalties that are applied is being dishonest on visa applications. However, if Trump hopes to bring an end to “birthright citizenship”, he would need to see the constitution amended.