“If you were not born in the United States as a woman, but you have a child there, your child will automatically receive an American passport,” says Mouthaan. “It is easier for the mother to get an American visa.” This “birth tourism” is a thorn in the eyes of the American president.
In 2012, 36,000 babies were born in the US whose mother has a different nationality. “Birth tourism is basically legal,” says Mouthaan. “But there are companies that respond illegally to this. They provide shelter for these women in the last few months of their pregnancy, for a large fee. That is not allowed: here they call it immigration fraud.”
Three of those companies were closed down last year. They had names like Happy Baby USA or Win a USA Vacation.
Trump wants to combat pregnancy tourism because he wants to reduce the number of immigrants. And birth tourism, says Mouthaan, is “a fairly easy way for women to come to the US.”
Trump would prefer not to allow pregnant travelers at all, but in practice that is impossible to arrange. That is why a restrictive measure has been chosen. The president wants pregnant women entering the country to give legitimate reasons for their stay in the US. An immigration officer must base his judgment on whether you will be admitted to the country.
“In practice it is difficult to assess all women,” says Mouthaan. “The immigration officers themselves must address women they suspect are pregnant. And it is not always clear whether a woman is pregnant.”
Birth tourism is especially popular among women with a Chinese background. The authorities will monitor this group of women more closely.
In a statement, the White House says these rules are necessary to improve the security and integrity of the immigration system. Birth tourism would cause hospital overload according to the White House. They would also encourage an increase in criminal activities in the states where illegal businesses are located that help pregnant women.