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'Maternity hotel' in California shuts down

Jan. 4, 2013 at 9:34 AM

CHINO HILLS, Calif., Jan. 4 (UPI) -- An alleged "maternity hotel" in a California mansion was shut down after officials obtained a temporary restraining order against its owners, authorities said.

The building in Chino Hills, about 40 miles from Los Angeles, allegedly housed women from China who traveled to the United States to give birth to babies with U.S. citizenship, the Los Angeles Times reported.

City officials described the so-called hotel as a seven-bedroom house divided into 17 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms and said the owners did not obtain permits to remodel the property and were not allowed to operate a business in a residential zone.

Neighbors complained of cars speeding in and out of the driveway and a raw sewage spill from the house's overloaded septic system.

So-called birth tourism, in which a mother gives birth in another country so her child can have citizenship in that country, is widespread in California's San Gabriel Valley, and the practice does not violate federal immigration laws, officials said.

City spokesman Denise Cattern said the house now appears to be unoccupied.

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