New State Department Rules Crack Down on 'Birth Tourism' Under National Security Guise

The Trump administration is trying to make it harder for pregnant women to enter the country as tourists since they might give birth while here.


Today, the State Department announced new rules which will make it harder for pregnant women to enter the U.S. on tourist visas as part of a Trump administration effort to reduce "birth tourism," or foreign citizens coming into the country to give birth so their children can receive U.S. citizenship. The rules will go into effect tomorrow.

Consular officers have been instructed to deny B1 and B2 nonimmigrant visas—visas for tourism, business, or medical treatment—to pregnant women who they believe intend "to travel for this primary purpose" of "obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child." Though these changes do not explicitly prohibit all pregnant women from receiving B1 and B2 visas, they do extend more discretion to consular officers to deny those applications if they suspect the applicant might be coming to give birth. The Wall Street Journal notes these decisions "are typically final, and foreign nationals looking to appeal their decisions in U.S. courts have seen little success."

The State Department claims that "birth tourism poses risks to national security" and that the "industry is…rife with criminal activity." Stephanie Grisham, White House press secretary, noted that these changes "will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism."

As with many administration proclamations, this might be more about symbolism than policy. In October 2018, Trump said he would sign an executive order ending the automatic right to citizenship for people born in the U.S. In August 2019, he noted he was toying with the idea still, saying, "You walk over the border and have a baby, congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen…It's frankly ridiculous."

Only about 10,000 babies were born in the U.S. to foreign residents, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2017 (though reliable statistics on how many children are born to foreign residents are hard to get). Still, entering the country through a tourist visa to give birth (and then using the child's citizenship status to later immigrate) is not an especially common or speedy way of getting citizenship.

As Reason's Shikha Dalmia has written:

"The 'anchor' in anchor babies refers to the birthright citizenship of the child, who then can supposedly turn around and sponsor his or her mom and dad. But children can't sponsor their parents before the age of 21. And undocumented parents are supposed to wait 10 years outside America before qualifying, putting the total lag time between birth and a parental green card at more than three decades. Moving to the U.S. illegally while pregnant isn't much of an infiltration strategy."

The likelier motivation for this move is the one Trump complained about last year: Foreign nationals who give birth in the United States give birth to U.S. citizens. These women may also be seeking access to better medical care than they can receive in their countries of origin, or opportunities for their future children that they never had for themselves (and, as Dalmia notes, likely will never have). This rule guarantees that those women will be treated with enormous suspicion, regardless of where they plan to give birth, who they're coming to visit, how long they intended to stay, or whether they can pay for the medical services they're seeking. But this new rule will have pretty much no impact on national security.

NEXT: Corruption Allegations Against Biden Are 'Completely Groundless,' Says Democratic Impeachment Manager

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. These people seem to be in denial that it even happens at all, despite several recent news articles to the contrary.

    1. “Despite several recent news articles to the contrary.”

      I like that. What amazing insight.

      I Piss on this paper strip lady. If it is blue you no coming here.

      1. No pregos coming here. About time.

      2. My mistake.

        You piss on the paper strip lady.

      3. And here’s the denial in action.

  2. “The Trump administration is trying to make it harder for pregnant women to enter the country as tourists since they might give birth while here.”

    It’s about damn time

    1. How many years until whites lose majority status in America?

      1. Define “whites”

        1. Norway. The leader said so. They are not shithole.

          1. Norway isn’t a shithole.
            Notably, it’s also Norway…

            1. Much whiter also.

              1. To be fair, white people are pretty awesome.

                1. Race is a myth but that is a different discussion.

                  1. And yet, IQ averages differ between races. . .

                  2. Genetics certainly aren’t.

                    1. The very fact that visible differences among races exist seems to contradict your statement. White folks don’t have black kids, and vice versa. Try harder.

      2. About the same amount of time until you get taken out for being a devil gringo, hicklib.

      3. Why, exactly, do you think it matters? In the last Census, Texas was only 45.3% non-Hispanic white. How much good did that do Democrats over the next decade?

      4. What with the honorary whites: Asians and Hispanics, my guess would be never.

        1. Hispanics are largely white Europeans, complete with a world dominating, slave owning, native raping evil European empire in their historical background.

  3. The State Department claims that “birth tourism poses risks to national security”

    “However, the 14th Amendment itself is hunky-dory.”

    1. Look up what “subject to the jurisdiction of” means.
      Interesting stuff.
      Particularly how the fn authors of the amendment explicitly argued against the current interpretation.

      1. And a person is subject to the jurisdiction of the country to which he can be deported.
        It is the reason *why* he can be deported to said country, and not just randomly.

        Which is not the same as “within it’s jurisdiction,” meaning physical location.

  4. “or opportunities for their future children that they never had for themselves “

    So, that means “trying to make their kids citizens”, right?

    Can y’all at least admit that outright, or is that a bridge too far, even here?

  5. You know, we could fix this problem if we just did citizenship like… every other country on the planet.

    1. What happened to American exceptionalism?

      Carry on, clingers. Not for much longer, though.

      1. American exceptionalism doesn’t mean that something is good policy just because it’s American policy, nor does it mean that there aren’t things about America that can be improved. It’s a shame that you didn’t go to a good school where you would’ve learned such things.

      2. What happened to American exceptionalism?

        America doesn’t need to be exceptionally stupid.

        Lots of other countries used to have jus soli; they all abolished it because it is not a sensible way of dealing with citizenship issues.

      3. I always wonder why you’re here. I don’t wander over to and comment. There has to be a psychosexual reason. Perhaps you could see someone and get to the bottom of it.

        1. Don’t encourage him to get to any bottoms, please.

    2. Lots of countries have jus soli citizenship, including nearly every country in the Americas.
      Several countries have it with some restrictions.
      Only a few have actually abolished it completely.

    3. So every other country on the planet has a universal plan for that. Except America. Define this universal plan.

  6. >>>Foreign nationals who give birth in the United States give birth to U.S. citizens.

    I’d want all my babies to be Americans too

  7. Birth tourism is perfectly acceptable to your betters and will renormalize relations in the new order. Clingers who stay the course will find out what is in store for their reeducation. The only borders will be those to keep clingers in training and away from normals.

    1. Another Bigoted Mini-Me to amuse the slack-jaws and malcontents as they experience defeat and await replacement.

      1. My skin’s far darker than yours, hicklib. The only slack-jaws and malcontents that are getting replaced are you and your snaggle-toothed family members.

      2. He is your replacement dummy. You raced to the front of the line like other socialists.

  8. Birth right was for an should be legislated as for former slaves..given the years since the end of the civil war…there should not be any birth right citizenships and in fact unless you were a former slave (0 probability by now)..being born in the States to a non citizen makes you a noncitizen as well…it is one fair to the folks who spend a decade becoming an American citizen.

  9. Good! Congress is free to abolish jus soli any time they get around to it. It is an anachronism created by a faulty legal decree that shouldn’t never have been implemented in the first place.

    1. Congress should abolish it, but they don’t technically have to.
      In fact, the arguments against it have already been made by those who wrote the 14th amendment in their advocacy for getting it passed.

      1. They wouldn’t have to abolish it if the courts actually interpreted the 14A the way it was intended to. However, since that is not likely going to happen any time soon, Congress needs to step in and fix it.

        Until then, executive orders within the limits of executive power (like this one) may help limit the damage.

        1. I don’t think courts have ever explicitly ruled on jus soli. It appears the immigration department just assumed the ruling in Wong Kim Ark allowed it.

          1. So who would have standing to bring a case?

            1. Someone who is denied if Trump changes the rule?

  10. I want to hear Democrats explain why school choice is wrong but citizenship choice is right.

    At least Reason is consistent on that.

    1. Like the rev would probably explain, the Democrats are consistent because, in both cases, the choice belongs to your betters.

      1.Your betters decide which children should go to which school- their children go to private schools, your children go to bad schools because diversity.

      2. Your betters decide which foreigners get to freely move to this country, namely the poor and sketchy ones looking for entitlements who benefit the Democrats politically. Not Christian refugees or people escaping communist dictatorships.

      1. I don’t think this suggestions because out of..

  11. I live in Baja about half-time. A friend of mine (MX citizen) decided to have her baby in the US. Since she has family up in Chula Vista, CA she has no issues renewing her tourist visa. She found a doctor happy to induce her, then stiffed the hospital on the bill. Think CA asked her what her citizenship status was? Unlikely. This kind of thing is shockingly common, aided by an army of attorneys and social workers on both sides of the border.

    1. Still friends?

      1. No– can’t see what she did as anything other than theft. Still tight with her folks, though

    2. As I’ve said for decades, if there’s a conflict between immigration and the welfare state, then get rid of the welfare state. Don’t be whining to keep the welfare state intact.

      1. Can I whine about both?

  12. “You walk over the border and have a baby, congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen…It’s frankly ridiculous.”

    It’s not ridiculous, it’s constitutional. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    The fact that the modern conservative movement explicitly rejects the US Constitution is appalling.

    1. The 18th Amendment was constitutional at one point, as well. Doesn’t mean that it was good national policy.

    2. What are you talking about? 14A explicitly rejects jus soli.

    3. “Subject to the jurisdiction thereof” means not owing allegiance to any foreign power which children of tourists clearly do.

      1. I know they test the newborns for HIV, Hepatitis, and some congenital disorders. The allegiance test must be a new one.

    4. You haven’t read the 14th amendment or the arguments FOR its ratification, which explicitly rejects just soli.

    5. Modern conservatives (1520 or thereabouts to Wallace campaign) are about religious national socialism, Comstock laws and Communist Manifesto plank 2. The only reason they feign appreciation of protectionist mercantilism is because, like mohammedans, they are against communism for not being about revealed Faith. Communist economic policies are not so different from those of conservatives.

    6. The 14th expressly forbids the children of foreign nationals from being born American.

      As the parents are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the country to which they can be deported. . . so is their child.

      Easy peasy.

  13. So it’s not just another assassination attempt on the 14th Amendment?

  14. Long, long overdue change. Being a citizen is a privilege.

    1. One earns privilege.
      If whites have “white privilege,” it’s because they’ve earned it.
      Citizenship is also a privilege, to be earned.

      Many actually earn it by going through the process.
      Others “earn it” by breaking the law.

  15. This pleases me greatly. Anything and everything to discourage breeding by humans is great, and in the US even better.

  16. We ought to go ahead and clarify our citizenship standards to explain exactly what we mean by, ‘and subject to the jurisdiction of’ in the 14th amendment. In my opinion, birthright citizenship should only extend to the children of citizens (born anywhere?) and legal permanent residents (born in the US).

    I would be willing to even give ‘legal permanent resident’ status to children born to illegal permanent residents – but not to temporary visitors. So that a) they wouldn’t live under the threat of deportation, and b) their own children could be citizens by birthright.

    But, the whole thing is such a polarizing third-rail type of issue that I doubt that anything will substantially be done to change the actual policy. Just a bunch of hysterical rhetoric.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.