Birth Tourism - from China to the US

Birth tourism, the practice of families traveling as tourists to another nation solely for the purpose of childbirth, is a problem that tends to offer insight into global family issues.  Birth tourists tend to take advantage of the host country economically and politically, while simultaneously averting the laws of their home nation. 

Last week federal agents raided multiple California apartments, discovering evidence of birth tourism businesses whose primary clients, in these instances, were Chinese women. These businesses charge pregnant women thousands of dollars to help them get to the United States in time to give birth, and gain citizenship for their child, as under the Fourteenth Amendment any child born in the United States is a citizen of the United States. These raids have caused U.S. Senator Vitter (R-LA) to renew his call for the end of birthright citizenship.  See http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/05/sen-david-vitter-end-birth-right-citizenship-birth-tourism-crazy-nuts/).

Federal agents "were looking for evidence of visa fraud, conspiracy and other crimes in which women were helped to fabricate documents for visa applications and coached to falsely claim that they were traveling to the U.S. for tourism," according to the LA Times at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-birth-tourism-schemes-raids-20150303-story.html#page=1. For more information on these raids, read  the BBC's account at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31717213. These actions are clear evidence of immigration fraud, a consequence of the tangled web of intersections between family law and federal law.  For more information about those intersections of family law and immigration, read The Challenges of Family Law and Policy in Immigration Regulation, available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1962671.

This phenomenon of birth tourism, furthermore, may be at least partly a result of strict current Chinese population policies. (For more information on Chinese population controls, read http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/11197594/What-is-Chinas-one-child-policy.html.)  These policies have affected reproductive rights so severely that they have given rise to not only birth tourism taking advantage of a host country, but also to the growth in human trafficking in those controlled nations, and throughout the world.  Examining the Associations between Sustainable Development Population Policies and Human Trafficking, available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2551305, details the unintended or unforeseen consequences of stringent population controls, and how they both burden and risk the lives of women.  Birth Tourism is just another consequence of childbirth concerns for many families from tightly controlled national populations, making family restoration all the more challenging. 

- This thoughtful post is from guest blogger Amy Hilton, Regent Law 3L.


1 comment:

  1. The idea of tourism for the purpose of taking advantage of the host countries accommodation is also an issue in Switzerland, where instead of birth, we see the advent of Suicide Tourism. See http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/20/health/suicide-tourism-switzerland/. I think given the rise in globalization, it is important to note that countries are no longer capable of making laws in isolation and strictly for their own citizens. Now, individuals are drawn to the ethical indulgences of one country in order to escape the absence of “freedom” in their own country. The reason why this is so important in the context of suicide tourism is because a single countries ethical relativity becomes the means to destroy (i.e. suicide) another countries interest (i.e. citizens, public policy). By allowing this unethical “freedom of expression,” the actions of the citizens may be imputed onto the host nation (although now more and more America is embracing this “death with dignity” idea). If a nation is concerned with the well being of its citizens, it becomes virtually defenseless when neighboring countries provide a means for those citizens to seek aberrant behaviors completely at odds with the host countries’ public policy. So, although in court the host country may prevail by applying forum law (assuming case is filed there) on the basis of public policy, very little can be done to insulate the person from the practices available elsewhere (i.e. air traffic control). Applying this to family law, parenting is in the same predicament. Even if a parent wants to shelter their children in order to train them in right living (i.e. Classical Christian Education), it becomes almost impossible to keep the cultural pollution out. Parent may create an ethical household, but you are surrounded by an unethical society and it becomes very difficult to keep the child from leaving at some point in their life (i.e. controlling the air traffic). Paul the Apostle reflected on this reality in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 when he wrote,
    I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.