President Donald Trump has long railed against the principle of birthright citizenship, but it appears his administration has found a way around that pesky Fourteenth Amendment by simply tightening tourist visa restrictions on pregnant women.
A new rule, which the State Department reportedly plans to make public today and officially issue on Friday, will treat visa applicants who are deemed to be coming to the U.S. to give birth like any other visa applicant whos coming to the country for medical treatment, meaning they must prove they have the means to pay for that treatment.
The rule is designed to combat what the government has labeled birth tourism, or the practice of coming to the United States to give birth so the child would become a citizen. While accurate statistics are difficult to nail down, Pew estimated that at least 275,000 undocumented women gave birth in the United States in 2014.
The rule has not yet appeared in the Federal Register, but based on reports, it appears to apply to visa applicants from all countries. A draft version of the rule obtained earlier this week by BuzzFeed News says that if a consular officer decides an applicant is coming to the United States to give birth, the applicant must provide a legitimate primary purpose other than obtaining US citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States.
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In January 2019, 19 people were charged allegedly in connection with three birth tourism companies in southern California; an owner of one of the business, Dongyuan Li, pled guilty and was sentenced to time served.
The new rules are almost assuredly on questionable legal grounds. Officials at U.S. consulates are barred from asking people whether or not theyre pregnant, but will be forced to make a judgment call anyway, according to the AP.
Its also an open question of how effective the changes will be; depending on the origin country, B-2 visas are valid anywhere from one to ten years. It is largely symbolic, Migration Policy Institute analyst Sarah Pierce told BuzzFeed News earlier this week. Its not going to have a huge effect on the issue. This is mostly symbolic and another way to say the US is closed.
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)