Monday, December 24, 2018

Birthright citizenship and birth tourism

Birthright citizenship (i.e. every child born within the country is a citizen) is (perhaps unsurprisingly) a new-world phenomenon: it occurs widely in the Americas, which were populated largely by immigrants.

The map comes from:
Birthright Citizenship in the United States--A Global Comparison

Prosperous countries that give citizenship to everyone born within their borders (regardless of their parents' citizenship) can be attractive places to give birth, particularly if they have good medical care and comfortable surroundings, and particularly for families whose home may be problematic for political or economic reasons.

Birthright citizenship has become a political issue in the U.S. under the Trump administration, as part of a larger repugnance towards immigration.
NY Times: President Wants to Use Executive Order to End Birthright Citizenship
“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” Mr. Trump told Axios during an interview that was released in part on Tuesday, making a false claim. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

While some of that repugnance focuses on countries in Central and South America, there is also an expensive birth tourism market, catering e.g. to families from Russia and China.

Here's a recent story from Bloomberg:
There’s No Stopping the Russian Baby Boom in Miami
But it’s not, the new mothers insist, about the U.S. passport. “Why does Trump think everyone is dying to have one?”

"Being a birth tourist in Sunny Isles Beach isn’t cheap, with agencies charging as much as $50,000 to set up housing, hire interpreters, find doctors and deal with paperwork. Those who can’t afford that level of service buy smaller packages and rent apartments in far-flung suburbs, sometimes teaming up to share lodgings and expenses.
"The focus of Trump’s criticism hasn’t been the abuse of the system but the fact that it exists. One of his arguments against birthright citizenship is that when the babies born on U.S. soil become adults, they can petition for their parents to live permanently in the country.

But to many of the Russians in Sunny Isles, at least, this idea sounded unappealing. The biggest deterrent: They’d have to start paying personal income taxes that are more than double what they are in Russia."
And a story of a different sort from Newsweek:
"Though it’s not illegal to have their babies in the United States, birth tourists usually lie to immigration officials about their reasons for travel, according to an official cited by NBC. The bigger focus, however, are the organizers of websites that targeted women in China and sold the "maternity hotel" stays to them.

"For that reason, authorities did not arrest the women staying in the buildings on Wednesday, but instead will use them as witnesses in an attempt to prosecute the "handlers."

And here's a headline that looks like it could come from the U.S., but comes instead from Canada:

Feds studying 'birth tourism' as new data shows higher non-resident birth rates
"OTTAWA — The federal government is studying the issue of “birth tourism” with a view to better understand the scope of this practice within Canada and its impacts.

"This comes as new research published by Policy Options today shows the number of non-Canadian residents giving birth in Canadian hospitals is much higher than in figures reported by Statistics Canada.
"Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen ... says Canada does not collect information on whether a woman is pregnant when entering Canada, nor can a woman be denied entry solely because she is pregnant or might give birth in Canada."

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