With three new arrests, 19 people are now charged in this birth-tourism investigation that began in 2015 with raids on an upscale apartment complex east of downtown Los Angeles.
There, investigators say, pregnant Chinese women were being charged anywhere from $40- to $80,000 for food, lodging and transportation until their babies were born on U.S. soil and therefore qualified for citizenship.
In announcing the arrests, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles said, “America’s way of life is not for sale. Anyone who would exploit our Nation’s generosity and our legal immigration system should be on notice. They may end up being the ones to pay a very steep price.”
Here’s how it worked, according to investigators.
The pregnant women, usually wealthy, would call a company called “You Win USA Vacation Services” whose employees allegedly then coached the women on how to write bogus tourist visa applications and how to dress to travel without revealing their pregnancy. They flew first from China to Hawaii with other, genuine, tourists because it was apparently easier to get past Customs and Border Protection in Hawaii. Then they took a flight to l.A. And disappeared into one of the birth tourism apartments.
President Trump, of course, has previously said he would like to end the practice of birthright citizenship referring chiefly to pregnant women coming across the border from Mexico but also to wealthy foreigners taking advantage of the same opportunity for their children.
Trump says, “…They are all made instantly eligible for every privilege and benefit of American citizenship at a cost of billions of dollars a year.”
And this is a new front in immigration enforcement for the U.S. Government. The first time criminal charges have ever been brought against operators and customers of birth tourism businesses.