US federal agents raided over a dozen homes during a crackdown on three “maternity tourism” rings in which operators arrange for pregnant (and wealthy) Chinese women to give birth in the States on improper visas.
An unknown number of women were questioned by authorities but weren’t arrested. The crackdown is said to be the biggest yet by authorities, who explained that many pregnant women travel to the US to give birth but lie about the purpose of their visit in order to obtain a visa.
According to SCMP:
Investigators said women were coached to lie about their travel plans when applying for tourist visas and were promised they would receive Social Security identification numbers and US passports for their babies before returning to China.
In one instance, a trainer in China helped fabricate employment and income information for an undercover federal agent posing as a pregnant client to secure a tourist visa and encouraged her to fly through Hawaii, where customs officers were believed to be more lenient than in Los Angeles, according to a copy of an affidavit in support of a search warrant.
The business netted its owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past two years and helped Chinese tourists deliver more than 400 American babies, the court papers said.
“Maternity tourists” are drawn to the States because it offers birthright citizenship and provides their child with the same benefits enjoyed by American citizens such as a US education. They’re willing to drop a pretty penny for it, too. Authorities raided one upscale apartment on Tuesday where they say operators charged pregnant women 50,000 USD for accommodations, food and transportation.