Ted Hesson, Reuters, January 23, 2020
President Donald Trump’s administration rolled out a new rule on Thursday that aims to limit “birth tourism” by women who enter the United States on tourist visas with the intention of obtaining citizenship for their babies born on American soil.
Under the State Department regulation, which will take effect on Friday, pregnant women applying for visitor visas could be required to prove they have a specific reason for travel beyond giving birth, such as a medical necessity.
Trump faces re-election in November and has made restricting legal and illegal immigration a focus of his 2020 campaign. During his presidency, he has criticized the right to citizenship for any person born in the United States, which applies even to children born to tourists. But scrapping that right would require a change in the U.S. Constitution.
In some cases, alleged operators and customers of companies promoting “birth tourism” in the United States have been charged with providing false information to immigration authorities in order to conceal plans to give birth in the United States.
The final rule says consular officers must scrutinize female travelers to determine whether they might be pregnant, but does not explain how officers will make such determinations.
Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that approximately 9,300 children were born in the United States to mothers who live overseas in 2017, with an additional 900 born in U.S. territories.