I don’t know what to think of what I’ve just seen…
If you had the money and the time to do whatever you felt necessary to give your child the brightest possible future, what limits would you go to? Where would you draw the line in the sand and say beyond that line is just too far?
The above video is from NBCNews.com, “Rock Center with Brian Williams” from Thursday March 8th, 2013.
“Birth tourism” is a term for traveling to a country that practices birthright citizenship in order to give birth there, so that the child will be a citizen of the destination country.
Also from Wikipedia:
“Anchor baby” is a pejorative term for a child born in the United States to immigrant parents, who, as an American citizen, supposedly can later facilitate immigration for relatives. The term is generally used as a derogatory reference to the supposed role of the child, who automatically qualifies as an American citizen and can later act as a sponsor for other family members. The term is often used in the context of the debate over illegal immigration to the United States to refer to children of illegal immigrants, but could also be used in a similar sense outside of that context to refer to the child of any immigrant “when the child’s birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother’s or other relatives’ chances of securing eventual citizenship.
According to the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution:
Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.
Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.
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. (My own emphasis added.)
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment.
When I Googled this topic, most of the articles that were first listed in the search referred to cities in California like Sacramento and Los Angeles. By looking at the Wikipedia page quoted above, it seems to not only happen in America. These other nations include Canada, Hong Kong, and Ireland along with the United States. This practice is supposedly extremely popular within wealthy Asians including, the Chinese and South Koreans among a few others.
ABC News reporter Alyssa Newcomb reported in January 2013 in the article titled: “Los Angeles County ‘Birth Tourism’ Complaints Spike“:
Complaints have spiked over “birth tourism” in Los Angeles County, with 60 alleged maternity hotels being reported in the past month, according to a report by the county planning department.
Authorities have found it difficult to gain access to the alleged maternity hotels and verify suspicions. So far, they have been able to inspect only seven, and found that three of them were in violation of zoning codes.
Nestled in residential neighborhoods, the so-called maternity hotels are overwhelmingly advertised to women from Asia, as evidenced from various websites, offering expectant mothers the chance to give birth to an American citizen.
Pregnant mothers are advised to wear a dark T-shirt and holding a large backpack in front of them to cover their stomachs, according to advice on the website. They are also told to not bring in any items specific to pregnant women and babies, in order to prevent suspicion.
Aside from citizenship, the website touts other perks American citizens enjoy, including free public education, better loan rates and social welfare during retirement.
The impression I obtained from the Rock Center report was that most of these “tourists” only remain in the United States long enough to give birth, then obtain their American birth certificates and then return home. During their stay in America they usually pay cash for their hospital stay, the goods they purchase (clothing, electronics, etc), often upwards of $30,000 to travel to America, give birth and then obtain the necessary paperwork that will provide their child a ‘bright’ American future, if not themselves too.
I think I need to stew on this some more myself to fully develop an opinion, in the meantime what do you think about this?
This isn’t technically illegal, but is it right? What would you do for your child if you had the money and the time, would you travel to another country in order to potentially provide more opportunities for education, social advancement, employment and who knows what else? If not, why not?
After sharing this with my husband he made a very good point which I have also been mulling over. His response to this whole ‘issue’ is that it really isn’t an issue and he doesn’t have a problem with it because it is legal. Additionally, isn’t that exactly why he is here, in Europe, for us. We (he, myself and our future son) are taking full advantage of the fact that he happened to be born in England before they changed their laws regarding birth and citizenship. That is the reason we are able to honestly stay here today: privilege of birth or birth chance or opportunity of birth, whatever you want to call it. His parents didn’t really plan it that way, it just happened as his father was living and working in England for a number of years. Is it wrong? I can tell you that we both greatly appreciate the opportunities it has provided us thus far, but also recognize it is what it is.
9 thoughts on “Anchor babies or future opportunists?”
Let me help you out with your research. Here on the east coast we get birth tourists from Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, etc. It ‘s big business. Women come over late in the pregnancy and stay at various “homes” until they deliver and then are very open that they are returning to their home countries within weeks of delivering. They are demanding that they need their birth certificates before they go back, some even wanting to know who to pay to expedite the process. Many of them show their disdain for the American culture while they are here, come in as “self pay” and are demanding to the point of decreasing the amount of time that we have to spend with our other patients. Have you figured out that I work in maternity? We see this practice all of the time and it aggravates me to no end.
I am quite liberal in my political views and have no problems with immigrants who live here and are staying here having their citizens but these women are coming here to abuse the system and are very blatant about it. Now imagine all of these American citizens being raised in atmospheres that are not exactly friendly to our country. Doesn’t make for a good future citizen. Frankly, I am quite scared for our country and it’s future and this is a big part of that fear. Make no mistake, this is a big and growing business.
Wow Sherry, Thank you for your personal perspective on this issue. I absolutely appreciate you sharing this information.
I partly agree with Tom: It is legal, so you can’t blame the people who do it. Actually you shouldn’t blame parents who do this anyway, since they’re really trying to make their (and hopefully their kids’) lives better.
However, I do think that this law belongs in the category “obsolete”. Yes, the US is a country of immigrants and diversity is important. However, there is a problem when you let everyone in. I like the approach that someone who wants to live and work in a country has to be able to contribute something – or be in serious danger and therefore in need of protection.
If you let more and more people into a country where the job market is already terrible by first world standards, it’s not going to make the situation much better. And as often as that argument is abused by right-wing nutjobs, there is a little bit of truth to it:
If you let too many people in who need help, you’ll sooner or later have problems helping yourself. I’m sure there’s a good middle ground that needs to be found but letting people in because they were birth tourists some years ago can’t be part of it.
I hope y’all are doing well. 🙂
Marc, thanks for your thoughts on this. I find the whole situation interesting. I suppose I think if the law allows it then so be or change the law. I don’t know how many other countries have laws like U.S.
I also agree with you about people contributing to the society or community they join, and if there is already a serious strain on the economy before they arrive, it may be harder for them to contribute.
By sheer luck we happened upon Germany, not necessarily knowing at the time that Germany’s economy was one of the strongest in Europe. How fortunate we are!
Very energetic article, I loved that a lot.
Will there be a part 2?
wow. well my initial thought was “what will they think of next”. But it’s all about the magic B word – BUSINESS – someone’s making a lot of money off of this, and it’s legal – Unfortunately it’s one of the many “topics” in today’s world that are both legal yet questionable or at the very least, a bit shocking.
I used to live in Switzerland and they have a much tighter approach. If a child is born in Switzerland to non-Swiss parents then that child does NOT get Swiss citizenship. It takes on the citizenship of one of the parents (I believe, the mother). I am not sure which other countries operate that way… but I think its an interesting perspective
Indeed! Thanks for the insight about Switzerland. It would make for an interesting study, to see the various countries of the world represented by their policies on such things. I’m sure it has already been done somewhere, the problem is finding the time to look for it.
True, and by the time you find that study, a bunch of countries will have changed their laws, and those studies will be considered past due 😉
Oh so true.