Federal agents in Southern California have broken up several Chinese “birth tourism” rings this week, raiding homes where pregnant Chinese women hoped to give birth so that their babies would be born as US citizens, USA Today reports.
According to the Los Angeles Times nobody was arrested during the raid, but authorities are gathering evidence not only for visa fraud, but they looking into possible tax and money-laundering charges too.
Having US citizenship is considered to be so valuable that women will do almost anything to give their children the opportunity. Fees for Chinese women to give birth to their babies in the United States through these agencies start at USD 38,000, including guidance through the visa process and a luxury apartment to live in while waiting for the baby arrive.
Another article, by Channel 3 News, quoted the total price to be between USD 15,000 and USD 50,000 for lodging, transportation and food. In many cases, medical bills will have to be footed by the women themselves on top of this. However, a social security number and US passport for the baby is included in the deal.
In order to get into the country in the first place, the women book tickets to popular tourist destinations, and fabricate an employment history to convince immigration officials that their intention is not to overstay their visa, but purely to visit as a tourist.
One of the operations raided this week was called ‘You Win USA’, and apartment complexes were raided were those in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.