By Emily Lusung
The birth tourism industry is on the rise. Birth tourism is when women from foreign countries purposely travel to the United States to have their babies born into legal citizenship. Babies born of birth tourism, also known as anchor babies, are granted the privileges of being an American citizen by their mother. As of 2017, there were at least 4.5 million anchor babies in the United States under the age of eighteen, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Most of the time, the noncitizen mothers allow themselves to have the advantage of securing citizenship and seeking residency through birth tourism. These mothers are wealthy, meaning their children are guaranteed to thrive off of their benefits. The benefits include mainly containing legal citizenship and having the advantage of being born in America which is being able to obtain an easy access to education in their future.
Birth tourism provides better futures for anchor babies, even though their privileges are being regarded as abuse of the Fourteenth amendment. Three people were arrested in late January on charges of running birth tourism companies in Southern California. Birth tourism itself is not illegal, but the suspects were arrested for, "Conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, international money laundering and identity theft," according to the United States Department of Justice statement. Evidently, the Fourteenth amendment, which states “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,” has been unfortunately abused within this situation. In 2015, a raid of dozens of “maternity hotels” occured, where mothers-to-be were paid between $15,000 to $50,000 to give birth in the United States, according to a statement given at the time by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Fortunately, the mothers involved were only treated as material witnesses and were not arrested. Through the practice of birth tourism, individuals are taking the advantage in distorting the true purpose of it. The one objective of birth tourism has no longer been prioritized. As seen through the arrests, people are creating their own businesses to achieve wealth and perform visa frauds.
As for the anchor babies who have no control over these decisions have been given criticism in the past. Several protests have taken place in favor of being against birth tourism. These children had no say or choice in being born in America. With respects to the Fourteenth amendment, they are Americans since they were born in America. The true purpose of birth tourism are mothers’ genuine concern for giving their unborn child a decent and significant future. Apart from containing legal citizenship, these mothers are also drawn to the U.S. flawed yet superior healthcare, more jobs with a decent pay, and easy access to an education. The completely legal practice of birth tourism is solely harmless, unfortunately, the illegal activities run behind it have created a bad name for it. Visa frauds have occurred especially within the maternity hotels.
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