The debate about "anchor babies," American citizen children born on United States' soil to illegal alien mothers, has moved into the spotlight. According to a recent CNN story titled "Is the Next Immigration Fight over 'Anchor Babies'?" Senator Lindsay Graham and House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith are among many legislators considering a requirement that at least one parent be either a citizen or a legal resident before a child can be granted citizenship.
In January, the State Legislators for Legal Immigration also proposed a legislative correction to prevent anchor babies from being citizens. The coalition of lawmakers from 40 states claims that the 14th Amendment has been wrongly applied to those born on U.S. soil to mothers who are not citizens.
Yet as the birth tourism industry continues to grow, Congress remains mute about the scandal. The current Congressional brouhaha is about individuals who illegally cross the border and take up residency (possibly for years) before having children. The birth tourism industry differs in that pregnant foreign-born women come to the United States for the sole purpose of having citizen children, live in specially designed facilities to cater to their maternal needs and leave America as soon as medically feasible postpartum.
The solution to this blatant disregard for United States sovereignty is, I suggest, easier than most might think, assuming that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has the will to act. The U.S. State Department cannot deny a woman a temporary visitor visa simply because she is pregnant but it can deport people who lie on their applications. According to the State Department, any lie, fraud, perjury, or forgery on an immigration application or in an interview is grounds for criminal prosecution and revocation of any immigration benefit granted.
Here's how the birth tourism industry could be stopped cold. ICE could mount an investigate inquiry into the birthing centers much like it did at the Chipotle Mexican Grill. A review of the visas held by the mothers-to-be would reveal that they had listed the purpose of their U.S. visit as "tourist," an obvious fabrication since they would be living at a birthing center.
Their next temporary home would be a deportation center where they would promptly be assigned for removal. Although howls of outrage would follow, the reality is that if the threat of deportation hangs over anyone's head who chooses to gamble on coming to American for birthing purposes, foreign nationals would think twice before shelling out tens of thousands of dollars in fees that they would never recover. And, of course, their mission of having an American citizen child would be foiled.
On the other hand, if ICE fails to act the birth tourism industry will expand. The Internet offers information about dozens of birthing centers that reaches a worldwide audience.
If you're impressed by brazen tactics, check out the Cupid Center in Queens, New York, website address www.usanybaby.com. In an interview "Anna," the owner, admitted that "Many of them [her clients] want American citizenship for their children." Anna encourages the women to arrive three months early to maximize their chances of clearing customs. Total cost to the "tourists": room and board between $13,000-$25,000 plus an additional $8,000-$11,000 for hospital expenses. Just in case anyone has misgivings about what birthing centers' intentions are, posted image has an infant lying next to a U.S. passport.
Without ICE intervention, the numbers of birthing centers will mushroom. The blatant disregard for American citizenship should end today.
Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns -- mostly about immigration and related social issues -- since 1986. He is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns have frequently been syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. He can be reached at JoeGuzzardi@CAPSweb.org