Federal agents crack down on 'anchor baby' industry

Multimillion-dollar brokers facilitating travel for expectant mothers from China, suspected of visa fraud and tax evasion, were the target.

By Elizabeth Shim

LOS ANGELES, March 4 (UPI) -- A federal raid on dozens of "maternity hotels" in Southern California uncovered records, computers and even diaper boxes from the apartments of pregnant Chinese women on tourist visas who used brokers to travel to the United States to give birth.

The investigations are ongoing. But the warranted search Tuesday at various complexes was executed based on evidence an "anchor baby" industry catering to a growing population of wealthy Chinese is facilitated by multimillion-dollar businesses that engage in visa fraud and tax evasion, The Wall Street Journal reported.


The policy to grant citizenship to U.S.-born offspring of immigrants is sourced from the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, adopted in 1868 not long after the Civil War.

In the past, immigrants have often found protection under the provision for their children, including women arriving from the Mexico border who seek better healthcare services.

But in January, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., stoked debate on birthright citizenship with a new bill.

According to the senator's website, the bill would prevent the children of "illegal" immigrants from gaining automatic U.S. citizenship unless one of the parents is a U.S. citizen or national, a lawful permanent resident, or "an alien performing active service in the U.S. Armed Forces."


In the California case, the Los Angeles Times reported federal affidavits revealed that birth tourism brokers charged a minimum fee of $38,000 to guide expectant Chinese mothers through a process that included doctoring information about employment, travel plans and what to say in interviews with U.S. immigration officials.

Another affidavit referred to a law review article that estimated more than 10 percent of children born to non-U.S. citizens were the products of the anchor baby industry.

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