Homeland Security Raids US Birth Tourism Industry

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(Newswire.net — March 4, 2015)  — ‘Birth tourism’ is a term used by companies which offer women transportation to and from the airport, visits to the grocery store, restaurants, entertainment and prenatal visits to a physician, as well as lodging in “maternity hotels” or “birthing centers,” Fox News reported.

According to Fox News, the agencies also assist in getting the newborn a US passport, birth certificate and Social Security number. The total cost that women or couples needs to pay for this service is between $40,000 and $80,000. When the children turn 21, the agencies secure US citizenship for their parents.

The Center for Immigration Studies analyst Jessica Vaughan told Fox News that very valuable US citizenship is now for sale and it is legal. “Something US citizens hold very dear and cherish is essentially being purchased by people for their own economic self-interests or potentially more nefarious purposes,” she said.

It is not, however, that easy for people to get a visa for travel to the US, especially from Turkey, Taiwan or China, so the rising number of granted visas from that region rose suspicion that companies may be offering forged documents.

According to The New York Times, law enforcement officials with the Department of Homeland Security raided 37 locations in Southern California on Thursday, to gather evidence against companies believed to help women fraudulently obtain their US tourist visas.

The Department of Homeland Security found that one company in their pursuit for income, advised a Chinese woman to change the information of her education and her status so they can arrange a business visa. They also advised her not to report her pregnancy and coached her on how to conceal it when going through customs in the US.

“We were coached through the entire process,” a federal source told Fox News. “What to wear, what to say, how to stay under the radar.”

In addition, the companies from California advised woman to avoid traveling directly to LA or other California cities because it is much easier to pass through customs at the airport in Honolulu, and it is easier to obtain a tourist visa when travelling to Hawaii.

“This is still very much an ongoing investigation, coming after undercover activities that have lasted most of the last year,” said Virginia Kice, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman. “Today is just the execution of search warrants and evidence gathering. We are not anticipating any arrests right now.”

Reportedly, the raids occurred in California’s Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, however, it is believed that ‘American birth tourism’ is a growing problem in all states.