Birth Tourism: Passing Out Passports Like Candy

The golden ticket.

The golden ticket.

There exists a new wave of tourism popular amongst the Chinese and Taiwanese: Birth Tourism. This booming industry, with more than a hundred “Maternity Hotels”, is spreading like wild fire in the Southern California region with the sole purpose of  catering to expectant mothers wishing to obtain a U.S. Passport for their newborns. The practice has also gained popularity with South Korean and Turkish mothers.

I had no idea about birth tourism until an expectant mother of one of my students informed me she would be traveling to the States for a month, and therefore her daughter would be absent from my class. I knew that she was due to give birth in the next month, so I naively asked what she expected to do about the impending birth of the baby.

She timidly responded that the whole purpose of the trip was to give birth, and quickly followed with “I know you Americans frown upon it”.

“I’m not your typical American,” I replied with a smile.

The Rise Of Birth Tourism

Websites such as USA Baby Care, are among one of the many companies who aren’t discreet in their mission: to help the Chinese and Taiwanese give birth to an American baby.

To their clients, a U.S.  passport for their child is a ticket to freedom that will open the doors to free public education, low-interest student loans, in state tuition fees for Universities, job opportunities, and in some cases is a loop hole from the fines incurred from China’s one-child policy. However, the cost comes at a hefty price; mothers should expect to pay around $20,000 in exchange for transportation, meals, accommodation, childcare, and birthing arrangements.

Is It Illegal?


Although birth tourism falls into a grey area of federal law, Federal Immigration authorities say no law prevents pregnant women from entering the country.  All of the women enter the States on a legal tourist visa, however women often lie about their intentions.

So the issue comes down to whether people are lawfully obtaining their visas, and honestly representing their intentions.  Lying to immigration officers is a federal crime, but is difficult to prove.

Furthermore, thanks to the 14th Amendment, implemented in 1868, all children born on U.S. soil are granted citizenship. The United States and Canada are the last two developed countries that grant birthright citizenship, with the U.K. getting rid of the policy in 1983.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.,  a group advocating reduced immigration, is in opposition of the practice. He is among some advocates that believe the 14th Amendment is obsolete, because it was established to ensure that newly emancipated slaves would become citizens. Some advocates have even lobbied to repeal the 14th Amendment.

In a recent Los Angeles Time’s article, Krikorian stated, “They’re not doing anything illegal. The question for policy makers is, ‘Is this a good idea?’”.


  1. It is a real deal. They call them Anchor Babies. Ridiculous. What is wrong with our country.

  2. Parker Detweiler says:

    I anyone can have one. What makes them so special?

    • Haha. Well, these days I guess they aren’t. I’d rather have an EU Passport to be honest….But according to the mom at my school, she wants her daughter to go to an American University.

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