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Political Editors / January 28, 2020

Administration Targets Birth Tourism

New rule prevents tourist visas for pregnant women seeking to give birth in the U.S.

President Donald Trump is tackling another aspect of immigration that has become more pronounced in recent decades. Commonly referred to as “birth tourism,” a pregnant foreign woman legally travels to America for the express purpose of giving birth and thereby securing U.S. citizenship for her newborn child. It’s a clear abuse of the 14th Amendment, which says that “all persons born … in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” The amendment was adopted following the War Between the States to ensure that recently emancipated slaves who previously had not been recognized as Americans were legally granted the status of full U.S. citizenship.

Unfortunately, after decades of misinterpretation and misapplication of the 14th Amendment, a precedent has been long established wherein anyone born on U.S. soil is automatically granted citizenship status no matter the legal standing of their parents. Hence the rise of birth tourism.

Seeking to mitigate this growing problem while avoiding constitutional conflict, the State Department recently announced a new rule that applies only to the temporary “B” visas most often granted to tourists. As National Review reports, “The new rule says that birth tourism doesn’t count as traveling for ‘pleasure’ under the relevant statute, and directs consular officers to determine whether birth tourism is the primary purpose of a visit. These officers have been instructed not to ask women if they are pregnant ‘unless you have a specific articulable reason to believe they may be pregnant and planning to give birth in the United States’ — but when there are signs that birth tourism is afoot, the burden will fall on the traveler to prove a different reason for the trip.”

Pregnant women will still be allowed to enter and give birth in U.S. hospitals for medical reasons, but they will need to demonstrate that they can pay for the care.

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that there are upwards of 33,000 instances of birth tourism annually. While this new visa rule does address one aspect of birth tourism, it has no impact on those entering the U.S. illegally and giving birth. Such abuse of the 14th Amendment has, unfortunately, yet to be addressed.

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