Maternity hotels raided in California

U.S. agents raided three dozen "maternity hotels" in California where foreign women give birth, allegedly for the purpose of having a U.S.-citizen baby.

Tourists from China love going to California. Local economies love them because they drop a lot of money, but Uncle Sam says some of them are also dropping a lot of anchors, also known as babies.

Federal agents raided more than 30 so-called maternity hotels in southern California. They say these places cater to pregnant women, mainly from China.

“It’s not illegal to have your baby born in the United States, but it’s illegal to lie about your reasons for traveling,” said Claude Arnold, a special agent with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

US officials say the practice is becoming more popular with the new Chinese middle class who can afford to drop as much as $50,000 for a tourist visa, a small price for Chinese wanting to give their children the chance to breathe clean air and experience democracy and freedom.

But their kids need a U.S. passport to do that, and the quickest way to get one is to be born in the USA. Citizenship also gives the kids to the right to a free education and access to social services.

“The women were misrepresenting their reasons for travel, concealing the fact that they were pregnant, and they were coached by the businesses on how to do that,” Arnold said.

New regulations also help by cutting the time to get a visa to less than two weeks, and extending the stay for as much as ten years.

But making things easier for anchor babies, from any country, probably wasn’t one of the reasons for the changes.


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