What is birth tourism and why is Donald Trump banning it? [Explainer] - Khorgist.com

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Saturday, 25 January 2020

What is birth tourism and why is Donald Trump banning it? [Explainer]


A pregnant Nigerian woman (Guardian)
On Thursday, January 23, 2020, the U.S State Department gave visa officers more power to block pregnant women from visiting the United States just to give birth.
Visa officers were also directed to stop so-called birth tourism, or trips taken by pregnant women to obtain citizenship for their children.

“The State Department will no longer issue temporary visitor (B-1/B-2) visas to aliens seeking to enter the United States for birth tourism...this rule change is necessary to enhance public safety, national security and the integrity of our immigration system,” a statement from Stephanie Grisham, who is the White House Press Secretary, read.

What is birth tourism?

Birth tourism is the practice where pregnant women travel to the United States to secure automatic and permanent American citizenship for their children by giving birth on American soil.

It’s a practice perpetrated by citizens of most countries; and US President Donald Trump, who was propelled to the presidency in 2016 on the back of anti-immigrant sentiment, wants to put an end to it all.

Conservatives in the U.S have long railed against what they call “anchor babies.”

Anchor babies are children born on American soil and used by their parents to bring in other family members to the U.S.

Trump has also criticized the constitutional provision that grants U.S citizenship to most babies born in the United States, the New York Times (NYT) writes.

Why is this suddenly a problem for the U.S?
Grisham says the new rule aims to stop those who seek “automatic and permanent American citizenship for their children by giving birth on American soil.

“It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism."

She adds that “The integrity of American citizenship must be protected.”
Stephanie Grisham is White House Press Secretary (Evening Standard)
Carl C. Risch, Assistant Secretary of State for consular affairs, says “the birth tourism industry is also rife with criminal activity, including international criminal schemes.”
For the Trump administration, banning birth tourism is another way of enhancing national security, tackling terrorism and making America safe again, even though there is no empirical nexus between anchor babies and terrorist attacks or gun violence on U.S soil.

How will U.S embassy employees know who is pregnant or not?

According to the NYT, the birth tourism rule raises the burden of proof for pregnant women by outlining in writing that giving birth in the country “is an impermissible basis” for visiting the United States.
So, even if a woman says she is entering the country for medical treatment — a legitimate factor for visa eligibility — she will need to convince visa officers that she has enough money to pay for such treatments.
She will also need to prove that the medical care she is seeking is not available in her home country.
If an applicant’s responses to this line of questions are not credible, that may give consular officers reason to question whether the applicant qualifies for a visa,” Risch explains.

It is unclear how effective the new rule will be in practice

Some visas allow foreigners to visit the United States multiple times over as many as 10 years. This means an applicant could be granted a visa, get pregnant years later and still be permitted to visit the country.
However, pregnant women applying for US visas close to the delivery date could be denied.

“Unless D.H.S (Department of Homeland Security) changes how its officers interpret travel for pleasure to be consistent with the State Department rule, then people will still come to the United States to give birth. This won’t stop that happening,” says Theresa Cardinal Brown, Director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Trump breezed into the White House on an anti-immigrant sentiment (NYT)
Sung Yeon Choimorrow, the Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, says the rule was designed to intimidate young women.“I’m sorry, but pregnant women travel all the time. We go to visit other countries. No one should be asked about their bodily physical condition," she says.

Kerri Talbot, Director of federal advocacy for Immigration Hub, says the State Department is wrong for not specifying how officers abroad would determine if a traveler was pregnant.

“It is absurd that the Trump administration is turning embassy employees into reproductive policemen,” Talbot says.

While State Department officials said officers abroad would not administer pregnancy tests under the new policy, Choimorrow fears the rule’s consequences. She cited an incident last month when a Hong Kong-based airline apologized after making a passenger take a pregnancy test before boarding a flight to Saipan, the largest of the Mariana Islands and a commonwealth of the United States, writes NYT.

“It sends a message that coming to the United States means you forgo the right to your dignity,” Choimorrow adds.

Trump’s anchor babies ban arrives shortly before he unveils a visa restrictions list that includes a handful of countries, with the U.S media reporting this week that Nigeria also made the cut.

With his impeachment trial in the senate heating up and his re-election campaign kicking into gear, Trump has made it clear that he intends to highlight his administration’s efforts at tightening immigration laws, to the American people.

Scratch that. To white supremacists.

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