The Trump administration has been known for its hard line on immigration, and now it is going another step further. New rules target women who travel to the U.S. merely to give birth so their child will be a U.S. citizen. Women suspected of traveling for so-called “birth tourism” will have to prove that they have a medical reason or other reason for traveling to the U.S. while they are pregnant.
New rules about birth tourism
The U.S. Constitution states that any child born on U.S. soil is automatically a U.S. citizen, so apparently, it isn’t uncommon for women to travel to U.S. soil to give birth and obtain a U.S. passport for their child. New regulations aimed at restricting birth tourism take effect Friday, and they enable consular officials to deny visas to women who are believed to be traveling to the U.S. just to give birth.
Officials supposedly won’t as every woman of child-bearing age who travels to the U.S. if they are pregnant, but they will look for signs that they may be traveling for birth tourism purposes. For example, listing medical treatment as the reason for the visit may trigger such a question. Women who look pregnant may also be questioned further about their intentions.
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Those who do seek medical treatment in the U.S. must be able to prove they can pay for everything, including living expenses and transportation. Women who travel for medical treatment must also prove that the care she needs is not available in her home country.
According to the Associated Press, the new rules regarding birth tourism will not apply to travelers who arrive from any of the 39 countries that are enrolled in the nation’s Visa Waiver Program. The program allows citizens of those countries to enter the U.S. to stay temporarily without a visa. The rules will apply only to visa applicants who are seeking B class visas allowing short-term visits for pleasure or business.
Concerns about the new rules
According to Al Jazeera, the U.S. has been restricting birth tourism since before Donald Trump took office. However, the issue has only attracted attention since he has been in office. The New York Times reports that officials are worried about so-called “anchor babies,” who are used by their parents to bring other family members into the country.
The Trump administration argues that the practice opens the door to criminal elements entering the country. Officials also say they want to protect American taxpayers from footing the bill for women to give birth in U.S. hospitals just so their babies will be American citizens. According to Vox, some are also concerned that foreigners could groom children born in the U.S. to act against the country when they get older.
Activists argue that the new rules unfairly target young women and amount to discrimination. There are also concerns about how authorities will determine whether or not a woman is traveling to the U.S. just to give birth on American soil and obtain U.S. citizenship for their child.