Birthing Tourism

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GloriaInTX's picture
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Birthing Tourism

Does it bother anyone that we are giving babies of foreign tourists citizenship so we can pay for their education whenever they feel like sending them back to the states?

ETA: Or so they can enjoy the other perks of being a U.S. Citizen?

From the outside, they looked like other recently built San Gabriel townhouses — two stories, Spanish style, with roofs of red tile.

Inside they were maternity centers for Chinese women willing to pay handsomely to travel here to give birth to American citizens.

Southern California has become a hub of so-called birthing tourism. Operators of such centers tend to try to blend in, attracting as little attention as possible.

But on quiet, residential Palm Avenue, neighbors had noticed an unusual number of pregnant women going in and out, and some complained about noise.

On March 8, code enforcement officials shut down three identical four-bedroom townhouses functioning as an unlicensed birthing center.

The homes, officials said, had been converted into maternity centers. Inside, they found about 10 mothers and seven newborns.

"The people were sitting and eating at a table. All the babies were in bassinets with a nurse attending to them," said Jennifer Davis, San Gabriel's director of community development.

The city fined the manager of the property, Dwight Chang of Arcadia, $800. He was cited for illegal construction and ordered to acquire permits and return the buildings to their original condition.

"They had moved walls around without proper permits. They did interior work that can sometimes create unsafe environments afterwards," Davis said. "And it's a business in a residential neighborhood. They are not permitted to operate there."

The Chinese mothers have since left the U.S. or moved into hotels, officials said. On Wednesday, construction work in the houses was underway. The doors were open, and visible inside was the detritus of a hasty departure — boxes of diapers, a baby-bottle sterilizer, a rice cooker, an electric kettle, bags of chopsticks and piles of Chinese-language magazines.

The garage of one of the buildings appeared to have been converted into an extra bedroom.

"It felt like something wasn't right in there," said Taylor Alderson, who was shocked to hear what had been going on next door. "There was a constant barrage of pregnant women going in and out of the house."

She said she rarely heard babies cry. But she was annoyed by the stream of traffic from visitors delivering baby products and the strong smell of "cheap canola oil" being used to stir fry vegetables.

"It's just too much to take in," Alderson said. "They count on people here being busy and keeping to themselves. In a more affluent neighborhood, they wouldn't' be able to get away with it."

An elderly neighbor who has lived on the block for 54 years said she did not want her name used because she feared retaliation. But she said one of the pregnant women once asked her where the local park was and if she could use her kitchen.

"She was unhappy with the food and the accommodation. They told her she had to eat what they cooked for her. I took her out to dinner," the woman said. "She even talked me into taking her to the hospital. She was having labor pains five minutes apart. Almost had the baby in my car."

The birthing centers are a twist on similar centers in China in which women recuperate for a month after delivery, following a strict diet and traditional rules meant to ensure their future health.

American centers offer these services as well — but the focus here is on giving birth. The actual deliveries take place in local hospitals. At birthing centers such as the one closed in San Gabriel, mothers get room and board and care before and after delivery.

It is not illegal for pregnant women to travel to the U.S. to give birth. Birthing centers advertise in wealthier Chinese cities, where some women can afford the thousands necessary to make the trip to America for a few months.

Most of the women go back to China after giving birth. But they know their children can return easily in the future to enjoy such benefits as free public education.

That bothers some of those living near the San Gabriel center.

"If they lived here, I don't mind," said Duke Trinh, who lives a few houses down. "If they are running a business, I don't want them here. It's not fair for us if [the mothers] go back to China and later send their kids here for education — because they don't pay taxes, we do."

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-birthing-center-20110325,0,5726974.story

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You don't have to be a citizen to get a free public education.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

You don't have to be a citizen to get a free public education.

This. I'm guessing the real reason is so that their children will have the other perks of U.S. citizenship. If you run into trouble in many parts of the world, being an American citizen can be helpful; being a Chinese citizen, even a wealthy one, isn't.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

You don't have to be a citizen to get a free public education.

Well yes, but i can see how this can make it easier in the end if you are from another country.

That being said...no, it doesn't bother me.

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No, I'm cool with it. I didn't do anything super cool to "earn" my US citizenship, I was just born here. Same as those kids.

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And I just want to add that I certainly don't want anyone trying to limit *MY* right to travel when I'm pregnant out of fear that I might have my baby in their country, so I'm not about to try to infringe any other pregnant woman's right to travel. The thought sends shivers down my spine. Sad How would we enforce it? Ask all women to pee in a cup along with presenting their travel documents at the border? Nope. Nope. Nope.

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It really doesn't bother me....should it?

Now this particular business didn't follow the rules and should be appropriate penalized-- but the premise doesn't bother me. If I were a wealthy Chinese citizen, I might consider doing the same. I would do anything to make a better life for my own children.

And free public education-- sure, but only for residents. We've made a pact as a nation that public education is a good investment, so residents receive one. I think it is a fantastic arrangement and am grateful for it.

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No it doesn't bother me at all. I can't get a grip on why people WOULD care.

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Would it matter to anyone if they came over and applied for federal medical assistance to pay for the costs of the birth? Technically, they could be eligible since they are separated from their spouses and may have no income other than the stipend the spouse may allocate to them, mostly having their earned income under 280% of the federal poverty guideline which is the criteria for pregnant woman basis...

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"Beertje" wrote:

Would it matter to anyone if they came over and applied for federal medical assistance to pay for the costs of the birth? Technically, they could be eligible since they are separated from their spouses and may have no income other than the stipend the spouse may allocate to them, mostly having their earned income under 280% of the federal poverty guideline which is the criteria for pregnant woman basis...

These women aren't separately legally, only by distance. And the fact that the spouse is paying for them to be at the birthing center & flying them home after birth indicates a willingness to continue supporting them. So no, they wouldn't be eligible for Medicare to pay for the birth.

But we have the same issue with pregnant "tourists" from Mexico coming in legally and having a baby. Many of them are poor and I'd say it's probably safe to assume that many of those births probably are covered by Medicare. Do I care? Not really. I consider health care to be a basic human right, not a privilege for the rich or well-insured.

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Wait, the founding fathers set this up?

Awesome.

Good on em. I'd totally bust a baby out in another country if that country had rules allowing it and it served my child's best interest!

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Heck no. I've already started saving to send my kid/and or spouse to Canada to give birth. I wouldn't have done that if Canada hadn't made stupid laws stripping people of their citizenship if they are born in the wrong country.

If you don't want this, it's time to reorganize your visa system so there is a possibility of people getting visa/citizenship without doing this.

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"Potter75" wrote:

Wait, the founding fathers set this up?

Awesome.

Good on em. I'd totally bust a baby out in another country if that country had rules allowing it and it served my child's best interest!

For sure. I would do this for my kids if I was in their position and could afford it. No doubt in my mind.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

No, I'm cool with it. I didn't do anything super cool to "earn" my US citizenship, I was just born here. Same as those kids.

Agreed. (Well except I am not actually American, but my kids are just because they were born here.)

I have no issue with it at all, they are doing exactly what most people do to get citizenship.

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"Spacers" wrote:

These women aren't separately legally, only by distance. And the fact that the spouse is paying for them to be at the birthing center & flying them home after birth indicates a willingness to continue supporting them. So no, they wouldn't be eligible for Medicare to pay for the birth.

But we have the same issue with pregnant "tourists" from Mexico coming in legally and having a baby. Many of them are poor and I'd say it's probably safe to assume that many of those births probably are covered by Medicare. Do I care? Not really. I consider health care to be a basic human right, not a privilege for the rich or well-insured.

There's many couples that are living apart, yet married who qualify for medicaid because they have established separate living arrangements. If they intend on staying in that state for at least thirty days and they're pregnant, they could get medicaid and have only what the spouse is sending them as their income counted in their budget. It really doesn't matter what country they're coming from, they all fall in the same bracket. The medicaid would be limited to the prenatal and birthing costs only, but the newborn could receive automatic eligibility. In our state it used to be for two years, but they've since dropped it to one year with a renewal after that year using an even higher income bracket, so majority of them qualify until they're two.