Federal officials raided a bunch of apartments in California last month, as part of an investigation into a “birth tourism” scam. It seems that thousands of pregnant Chinese women have flown into the United States on fraudulent visas so their babies would be born in this country — and, thus, become instant U.S. citizens.
The women allegedly paid between $40,000 and $80,000 for the arrangements, which included being escorted from the airport, taken to pre-arranged housing, provided with groceries and other supplies, and even provided with prenatal care.
The Department of Homeland Security says that the pregnant women were coached in China to lie about their travel plans. They were even told to wear loose clothing to hide their pregnancies. The Associated Press quoted Claude Arnold, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as saying, “These people were told to lie, how to lie, so that their motives for coming to the U.S. wouldn’t be questioned.”
The participants were allegedly promised that their babies would become U.S. citizens as soon as they were born, and that they would be issued with Social Security numbers and U.S. passports. And amazingly, it seems they are correct.
But these scammers are just a drop in bucket, compared to the number of illegal immigrants from other countries, especially Mexico, who do the same thing. In fact, in reporting on this story, the Los Angeles Times quoted one person as saying, “Come on, people go across the border to have a baby from Mexico all the time, so what’s the problem?”
What’s the problem? It’s that it is the official policy of the United States government that any child born in this country to both legal and illegal immigrants automatically and immediately becomes a citizen of the United States. Not only that, but by becoming a newly franchised citizen, that infant is permitted to sponsor American citizenship for its mother, father and other relatives.
Such infants are sometimes referred to as “anchor babies,” because their immediate and automatic citizenship is the “anchor” on which a host of other claims, from welfare to the citizenship of others, can be made. At least most of the Chinese women who come to this country to give birth then return to China with their child. Not so the ones who sneak in from Mexico.
How did such an insane policy come to be accepted as the law of the land? Well, the first thing you should know is that there is no such law. No, the whole bizarre policy is based on a very twisted interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Here’s the relevant section:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State where they reside.
When this amendment was first proposed in the aftermath of the Civil War, no one suggested that it would include the children of aliens, even if their parents were in this country legally when they were born. Since the parents were “subject to the jurisdiction” of the country where they were citizens, it was assumed that their children would also be citizens of the same country.
There were very rigid procedures in place for people to become citizens of this country. They included passing a written test (which was given in English), taking an oath of allegiance to the United States and renouncing their prior citizenship.
Obviously, newborn infants can’t do any of these things. So how can they possibly qualify for citizenship?
It’s time for Congress to correct this incredible misinterpretation of the law. In fact, it’s long past time. I believe the vast majority of Americans would agree on this. So where is the political leader who will promise to make it happen? We’re waiting.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.