Scoop: "Birth tourism" is Trump's next immigration target

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Scoop: "Birth tourism" is Trump's next immigration target

Stef W. Kight, Jonathan Swan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Trump administration has a new target on the immigration front — pregnant women visiting from other countries — with plans as early as this week to roll out a new rule cracking down on "birth tourism," three administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has threatened to end birthright citizenship and railed against immigrant "anchor babies." The new rule would be one of the first tangible steps to test how much legal authority the administration has to prevent foreigners from taking advantage of the 14th Amendment's protection of citizenship for anyone born in the U.S.

  • "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," a State Department official told Axios.
  • The regulation is also part of the administration's broader efforts to intensify the vetting process for visas, according to another senior administration official.


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The big picture: "Birth tourists" often come to the U.S. from China, Russia and Nigeria, according to the AP.

  • There's no official count of babies born to foreign visitors in the U.S., while the immigration restrictionist group Center for Immigration Studies — which has close ties to Trump administration immigration officials — puts estimates at around 33,000 every year.

How the new regulation would work: It would alter the requirements for B visas (or visitor visas), giving State Department officials the authority to deny foreigners the short-term business and tourism visas if they believe the process is being used to facilitate automatic citizenship.

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  • It's unclear yet how the rule would be enforced — whether officials would be directed to consider pregnancy or the country of the woman's citizenship in determining whether to grant a visa.
  • Consular officers who issue passports and visas "are remarkably skilled at sussing out true versus false claims," the senior official said.
  • "The underlying practical issue is that very few people who give birth in the U.S. got a visa for that specific purpose. Most people already have visas and come in later," according to Jeffrey Gorsky, former chief legal adviser in the State Department visa office.

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This is but one step in the administration's plans to make it harder for people from other countries to benefit from birthright citizenship.

  • "Rome wasn't built in a day," the senior official said. "Just the legal recognition that this is improper and wrong and not allowed is a significant step forward."
  • The plans to address the use of B visas for birth tourism were included in the latest version of the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.
  • Immigration experts expect there to be a similar rule for Customs and Border Protection to go along with the State Department's regulation.

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What to watch: Most of Trump's major immigration moves have been met with lawsuits. If the regulation leaves it to officers' discretion to ensure that B visas aren't used for birth tourism, it would be difficult to challenge in court, according to Lynden Melmed, an attorney and former chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  • "State Department officials have all the discretion in the world to deny people visas," said Sarah Pierce of the Migration Policy Institute. Foreign nationals who are outside the U.S. and have not yet received visas "don't have a lot of legal standing."
  • But specific restrictions that could keep out non-birth tourism visitors — such as pregnant women coming to the U.S. for business, etc. — would be legally questionable, according to Melmed and Gorsky.

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川普嚴打「生育旅遊」! 疑來美生子者 將拒發給簽證

(World Journal) 記者顏伶如

川普政府的觀光簽證(B visas)新規,國務院官員如果懷疑申請短期商務簽證、觀光的外籍人士可能意圖美國生孩子,將有權拒發簽證。(美聯社)

國務院官員證實,川普政府計畫推動新規,加強查緝「生育旅遊」(birth tourism),也就是外國籍孕婦入境美國,在美國境內產下一出生便可擁有美國籍的寶寶。



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美國憲法第14條修正案(the 14th Amendment),規定任何在美國出生的兒童,生下來就是美國公民,無需考慮其父母的國籍。

Axios新聞網站報導,根據川普政府的觀光簽證(B visas)新規,國務院官員如果懷疑申請短期商務簽證、觀光的外籍人士可能意圖美國生孩子,將有權拒發簽證。



移民問題專家指出,除了國務院的新規定之外,聯邦海關和邊境保護局(Customs and Border Protection)也將推出類似的配套措施。

值得注意的是,川普上台之後,幾次推出重大移民改革,後來都因此挨告;但美國公民及移民服務局(U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)前任法務長梅爾米德(Lynden Melmed)說,允許移民官拒發簽證給想來美國生育旅遊的外國人士,不容易惹上官司。

非營利組織移民政策研究所(Migration Policy Institute)移民問題專家莎拉‧皮爾斯(Sarah Pierce)說,國務院官員本來就擁有絕對的權限可以拒發簽證給外國人士。


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