Friday, November 16, 2018

Constitutional Ways to Curb ‘Birth Tourism’

Photo: iStock/Getty Images
Enforce the ‘public charge’ provision of immigration law, and be more cautious about granting visas.
Birth tourism is real. Foreign women come to America to give birth to U.S. citizens. When I worked as a consular officer at U.S. embassies overseas, I frequently interviewed mothers-to-be for their visa applications. And I was often compelled to renew U.S. passports for children who had been born in America but never lived there. I complied with the law but felt as if I was complicit in a scam.
When applying for visas, few prospective birth tourists admitted their intentions, even though it isn’t illegal for foreign visitors to give birth in the U.S. Women wearing heavy coats in the middle of summer to conceal their bulging bellies would swear they couldn’t wait to visit a long-lost cousin they hadn’t seen in 20 years. When they’d return a little later to renew their tourist visas—new children with U.S. passports in tow—I’d ask for evidence they’d paid their medical bills. I’d frequently hear “I never got a bill” or “No one ever asked us to pay.”
Some of these applicants could have been refused under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s “public charge” provision, which covers aliens likely to become primarily dependent on government assistance. But we were discouraged from doing so, as it was difficult to prove and invited complaints. In 2017 consular officers adjudicated more than 13 million nonimmigrant visa applications. Only 47 were refused under the public-charge provision.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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