This article will discuss the history of America’s Birthright Citizenship policy, its implications, and the path to citizenship for those planning on engaging in Birth Tourism.
The stigma towards birth tourism exists can be seen in the term “anchor” or “jackpot” babies. Babies born to illegal alien mothers in the U.S. are also sometimes referred to in this way due to the perception that these babies anchor the illegal alien mother and their extended family into permanent U.S. residency. However, it is important to not make uninformed judgements about the process before understanding it in its entirety.
In order to understand how a baby born in the United States could potentially affect the immigration status of its mother, it is essential to understand the history of “birthright citizenship” in the United States. Under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, “Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States.” The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868 with an intent to protect the rights of native-born Black Americans, who were being denied their rights even though they were now free. Under its ratification, state governments were not able to deny citizenship to blacks born in the United States.
Birth Tourism in the present day means different things to different people. As reported by an article from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism page, the women who are coming to the U.S. to have children are not committing a crime, nor are they criminals. There are women, like Hui Xu who wanted her unborn child to receive the best medical care. Xu stayed with her brother in his quiet Los Angeles home, preparing for her child’s birth. When she went through Immigration and Customs, she openly declared her intentions.
Due to the intense media scrutiny and negative portrayal of so-called “birthing centers” or “maternity hotels,” many are slamming alien women for wanting to have their child in the U.S. While not all “birthing centers” have the best of intentions and methods, a large majority of these companies do provide women with ease-of-mind by taking care of their paperwork and visa process. It is unfair to place the blame of the center on women who are making the international trek with hopes of providing the best opportunity for their child. Oftentimes, these pregnant women are the ones who are the victims of exploitation by birthing centers who charge them large sums of money.
The birthing tourism industry also fosters an economic boost to the U.S. economy. The women who come to the U.S. on a birthing tourism visa are often wealthy, as they need to support themselves for the duration of months they stay in the country. Once a woman has a baby in the United States, the baby is a U.S. citizen and automatically subject to U.S. tax laws, even if both of the baby’s parents are aliens and the baby leaves the U.S. right after birth and never returns again.
Especially with election season heating up, the debate over birthing tourism is once again coming to the surface. The mythical “anchor baby” argument in the political sphere is another factor that has distorted the perception of women coming to America to have babies. The idea is that these women enter the U.S. illegally and give birth to children for the specific purpose of escaping removal from the U.S. and becoming citizens themselves. As discussed throughout this article, this is not true. Undocumented parents of a U.S.-born child detained in the U.S. face the same risk of deportation as any other alien. Babies born to aliens, can assist their undocumented parents but only when they reach the age of 21, when they can then apply for a visa and green card for their parents to enter the U.S. in a legal manner.
In order to utilize this option, a long-term strategy is necessary. The parents of the child here in the U.S. on a birthing tourism visa must do the following:
-Contributed by Mariah Lin, Intern at Law Offices of Sabrina Li