Trump Administration Targets ‘Birth Tourism’ with New Visa Vetting

The Trump administration will press ahead with a new rule this week aimed at targeting “birth tourism” — a term referring to pregnant women traveling to the U.S. in order to give birth and secure U.S. citizenship for their child, a State Department official confirmed to ABC News Monday.

“This change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry,” the official said in a statement.

The State Department took the lead on the issue, though visa protocols are administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security. Officials told Axios, on Sunday, that the changes to State Department policy for temporary tourist and business visas will be unveiled in the days ahead. It is still unclear how the administration will go about blocking citizenship to newborns, but it has looked at giving the State Department the ability to deny visitor visas to people on short-term business, as well as tourism visas to women it believes may be trying to give birth in the U.S.

Birth tourism has been a leading issue in the Trump administration’s immigration agenda, and officials have publicly criticized birthright citizenship,  — a guarantee mandated by the 14th Amendment for anyone born in the country. President Trump has previously stated that he wanted to issue an executive order to strip the right of any child born in the U.S. from becoming a citizen if the child’s mother was in the country illegally or not a citizen. Lawmakers immediately pushed back against his comments.

Ken Cuccinelli, Trump’s former head of Citizenship and Immigration Services and now the No. 2 at the Department of Homeland Security, said  that there’s no need to amend the Constitution to stop automatic citizenship being granted to immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, though he said he’s not sure whether President Trump could act alone or if it would take a law from Congress.

“I do not believe you need an amendment to the Constitution,” Cuccinelli told reporters in October. “I think the question is do you need congressional action or can the executive act on their own.”

Last year, federal prosecutors indicted 19 for schemes that catered to Chinese clients and charged tens of thousands of dollars with the promise of getting them to the United States for the purposes of giving birth. The defendants were charged with defrauding their victims and laundering money following a Homeland Security investigation.

Former acting U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) director Tom Homan appearing on Fox and Friends with host Heather Childers, said that birthright citizenship has “been a problem for a long time” and it’s a facet of the immigration issue that is not getting enough coverage. He told Childers that a lot of people come to the country to give birth because the child will be granted access to social benefits, welfare and food stamps.

“Also, the illegal alien parents believe that that child will be able to keep them here in the United States, and they’re right,” he said.

“They think it’s their golden ticket to come to the United States,”

“If the message we want to send to the rest of the world is: enter this country illegally, have a U.S. citizen child and you’re free to go, then we’re never going to solve the border crisis,” he added.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

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