A newly-released study estimates that are about 372,000 births annually in the United States by foreign nationals on temporary visas and those living here illegally, highlighting the robust “birth tourism” industry.
The Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C. think tank that advocates for decreased immigration, released a study that estimates there are about 39,000 births annually to guest workers, foreign students, and others staying on long-term temporary visas. An additional 33,000 births a year, the study found, take place by tourists — bringing this total to 72,000.
CIS estimates that around 330,000 births by women on tourist visas take place every decade. This number pales in comparison to the number of births by those living in the country illegally, another statistic that the think tank tracks.
CIS estimates that there roughly 300,000 annual births by illegal aliens. This figure, added with the number of births by non-immigrants, equates to about 372,000 a year.
“Our analysis makes clear that the number of children born to visitors is not trivial; and over time the numbers are substantial,” Steven Camarota, the CIS director of research and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “It seems doubtful that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment could have anticipated that tens of thousands of people each year would automatically be granted citizenship simply because their parents were on a temporary visit to the United States at the time of their birth.”
The new study — which relied on birth certificate and Census Bureau data — places a focus on what is known as “birth tourism,” the occurrence of foreign, pregnant women traveling to the U.S. shortly before their due dates so their children will be awarded U.S. citizenship upon birth.
Many foreign nationals, well aware of U.S. birthright citizenship laws, are willing to shell out a lot of money to ensure their baby is an American.
A Chinese national working out of Orange County, California pled guilty earlier this year to running a multi-million dollar birth tourism scheme. The woman, Dongyuan Li, operated a business that specifically advertised to wealthy Chinese government officials and pregnant clients who wanted to win birthright citizenship for their children. The business coached clients on how to skirt U.S. immigration laws and how to lie to U.S. immigration officials.
The business raked in a massive amount of cash in a short period of time. Li charged her customers anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000, and she pulled in a total of $3 million in wire transfers from China over two years.
The U.S., which is only one of 35 countries in the world that recognizes birthright citizenship, has long attracted foreigners hoping to take advantage of the law, with advertisers telling potential clients that citizenship will make it easier for their kids to enter into an American university and would be able to sponsor them to the U.S. when they turn 21.
President Donald Trump in August told reporters that he was “very, very seriously” considering an executive order to end birth citizenship, calling the rule “ridiculous.” However, not much discussion on the subject has emanated out of the White House since then.
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